Hexagon launches autonomy kits for agriculture with demo tractor

September 9, 2020  - By

Hexagon’s Autonomy and Positioning division has launched its first autonomy positioning and sensing kits for the agriculture market and validated these solutions in its new autonomous research and development tractor.

Through collaboration between NovAtel and AutonomouStuff, both part of Hexagon, the autonomous positioning and sensing kits were developed as part of Hexagon’s Smart Autonomous Mobility solutions portfolio launched at CES in early 2020. NovAtel and AutonomouStuff created the solutions with agriculture machinery OEMs and robotic machinery manufacturers in mind.

As a demonstrator vehicle for Smart Autonomous Mobility, the autonomous tractor features object detection and classification, simultaneous relative localization and mapping, absolute positioning through GNSS technology, and localization sensor fusing. Built to illustrate the viability of new positioning and sensing kits, the tractor incorporates safety-critical learnings with situational and environmental awareness, and manual remote control when needed. This platform validates how these solutions and capabilities accelerate autonomous development.

Hexagon's autonomous research and development tractor validated the new kit. (Photo: Hexagon)

Hexagon’s autonomous research and development tractor validated the new kit. (Photo: Hexagon)

The positioning and sensing kits are optimized for autonomous agriculture applications, including products like the Smart7 antenna and autonomous robotic capabilities through the NovAtel OEM7 driver powered by the Robot Operating System (ROS). The kits also feature TerraStar GNSS Correction Services, ALIGN heading and relative positioning firmware, and SPAN GNSS+INS technology. Though designed for agriculture, the kits integrate seamlessly into other off-road autonomy applications.

“These positioning and sensing kits provide developers with technology bringing assured positioning to autonomy in agriculture,” explained Michael Martinez, agriculture segment manager at Hexagon | NovAtel. “Robotic-machinery manufacturers or those experienced in autonomy may be unfamiliar with the unique challenges facing agriculture applications. Conversely, those experienced with agriculture may not have the expertise to integrate positioning and sensing products within autonomous solutions. We can help in both cases through these positioning and sensor kits, as demonstrated by our autonomous tractor.”

The new autonomous positioning and sensing kit. (Photo: Hexagon)

The new autonomous positioning and sensing kit. (Photo: Hexagon)

“We’re excited to use this tractor as a platform to validate the human identification, obstacle detection and enhanced environmental awareness that our sensing kits add to our assured positioning solutions in agriculture,” said John Buszek, VP of products and services at Hexagon | AutonomouStuff. “The sensing and positioning technologies we’ve integrated on this demonstration platform showcase the Smart Autonomous Mobility portfolio, which enables and accelerates the development of autonomy in agriculture applications from prototyping to production.”

For more than 30 years, NovAtel has delivered GNSS positioning solutions as a trusted provider for top precision agriculture companies. Combined with AutonomouStuff’s decade of expertise in autonomy and sensor fusion, they significantly reduce the barrier of entry into autonomy to accelerate the time to market for autonomous solutions in agriculture, construction, mining and other off-road applications.

Learn more about their agriculture autonomy capabilities by taking a virtual tractor tour via their 3D interactive app or online at novatel.com/ag-autonomy.

About the Author: Tracy Cozzens

Senior Editor Tracy Cozzens joined GPS World magazine in 2006. She also is editor of GPS World’s newsletters and the sister website Geospatial Solutions. She has worked in government, for non-profits, and in corporate communications, editing a variety of publications for audiences ranging from federal government contractors to teachers.