John Deere's Self-Driving Tractor

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Knight, Will. "John Deere's Self-Driving Tractor Stirs Debate on AI in Farming." Wired on line 4 January 2022, at link.[1]


DEERE & CO. helped mechanize agriculture in 1837 with the first commercially successful steel plow. On Tuesday, the company unveiled a machine that could prove just as transformative: a fully autonomous tractor.

John Deere’s new 8R tractor uses six pairs of stereo cameras and advanced artificial intelligence to perceive its environment and navigate. It can find its way to a field on its own when given a route and coordinates, then plow the soil or sow seeds without instructions, avoiding obstacles as it goes. A farmer can give the machine new orders using a smartphone app. [...]

Deere did not say how much the new tractor will cost; its most expensive current models can run up to $800,000. [...]

Autonomy has been creeping into tractors and other farm equipment for decades, with recent advances building upon progress made in robotics and self-driving cars.

The fully autonomous 8R relies on neural network algorithms to make sense of the information streaming into its cameras.

Labor issues here as well as ownership and control of data.

Note for real-world AI. Cf. fictional automated tractors in Silverberg's The World Inside; cf. and definitely contrast "the dance of the tractors" in S. Eisenstein's OLD AND NEW (vt. THE GENERAL LINE).


RDE, finishing, 5Jan22, with thanks to Suzy McKee Charnas