The department of Mechatronics, Biostatistics and Sensors (MeBioS) of Leuven University, Belgium, together with Flanders' Mechatronics Technology Centre (FTMC) successfully converted an existing mini tractor into an autonomous self-learning field robot.


The tractor learns to identify soil characteristics, and on the basis of results controls its speed and steering angle allowing it to follow a certain route very accurately, all without a driver. Precision in the control of agricultural machinery is an important feature for organic farming.


The self-learning tractor is equipped with linear drives for the accelerator pedal and steering control. In addition, the tractor carries a computer and various additional sensors including a GPS system. The autonomous control system acting as the driver is capable of examining and learning soil conditions, and makes an estimate of the expected wheel slip. Based on a model of the tractor, the optimal speed and steering angle get calculated for the soil to be worked. A GPS measures the actual position which is then compared to the expected position. On this basis, the system adjusts itself.


A prototype of the self-learning tractor will be shown at the 30th International Farming Tools Day, held in Oudenaarde (Bedlgium) on September 24 and 25.


Photo: Foto: LeCoPro