Artificial intelligence is already used in many applications today such as software for speech recognition in smartphones. With Automated Operations ZF will show at Agritechnica its expertise in this field.
ZF Automated Operations
The ZF ProAI processor unit, specially developed for automotive applications (Fig. 9), is the first result of the cooperation between ZF and the IT-specialist Nvidia as well as an important step towards autonomous driving. ZF ProAI enables vehicles to "understand" their environment by processing and interpreting sensor data using deep-learning methods. In addition, the two companies are working on solutions for highly-automated and fully-automated driving and operations including automated driving functions for cars and commercial vehicles as well as applications for industrial technology.
Highly automated functions for agricultural applications are being developed with a combination of cameras, lasers and radars from ZF and its collaboration partners.
Automated driving in grassland
Safety, reduced driver‘s workload as well as process automation are becoming more and more important for the agricultural sector.
This is why ZF is working with the tractor manufacturer Lindner to develop the TracLink Pilot, which enables highly automated driving functions for the Lintrac 110 (Fig. 10). The vehicle is designed so that it can be retrofitted for automated driving as soon as it will be legally permitted.
The technology is currently going through an intensive test phase towards series production.
"Our experience with a test vehicle based on the former model Lintrac 90 shows how agriculture can benefit from the megatrends, networking and artificial intelligence," says Mark Mohr, Head of the Automated Operations Project House at ZF, about the tractor that ZF has equipped with a range of intelligent systems. “With a set of cameras, lidar and radar sensors from ZF's cooperation partners whose signals are processed by the high-performance electronic unit ZF ProAI, the tractor features a 360-degree surround view system with integrated pedestrian recognition. An additional GPS/IMU-based navigation system connected to the steering, the hydraulic implements and the in-house CVT (continuously variable transmission) enables automated field operations. The emergency stop is achieved by controlling an electro-mechanical parking brake."
Automated driving functions for increased productivity
The Lintrac offers several driving functions with which it performs fully automated. For instance, the tractor is driverless able to follow a vehicle driving in front.
The so-called “Copy-Paste” function goes a step further: the tractor can repeat automatically any field operation that is previously carried out and recorded by the operator beforehand. This means that the system can take over the throttle, the steering and the hay tedder while the farmer devotes himself to other tasks.
Driver assistance functions
A sensor-based assistance system recognizes cutting edges, field boundaries as well as swaths and automatically keeps the tractor on track. For instance, the driver can concentrate on the baler while the pickup press is optimally guided over the swath for even filling. This increases productivity and saves both time and fuel.
All these functions can be monitored and activated by means of a mobile device (tablet, smartphone) with a related app.
Safety through surround-view and object-detection
Automated driving requires a high degree of safety. This factor was taken into account for the test vehicle. "Thanks to the integrated ZF cameras, the vehicle has a 360-degree view of the surroundings and pedestrian/obstacle detection capability. The surround-view system stops the vehicle immediately in the event of sudden obstacles and informs the farmer through a mobile device," explains Dr. Mohr. “In addition, with the aid of BLE TAGs from the ZF Openmatics telematics platform, the tractor is able to recognize which implement is mounted on the front and rear hydraulics. Automated driving functions can only be activated if the implements are connected correctly.”