Fendt has redesigned its Xaver swarm robots, with a new seeding unit, three wheel format, and increased technology.
In collaboration with Agco owned company Precision Planting, the seeding unit for Fendt’s Xaver swarm robots has been replaced with a vSet unit. This electrically driven unit places individual seeds at predefined spaces along the rows with a ‘flexible firmer’.
However, the manufacturer is looking into ways it can integrate Precision Planting’s Smart Firmer, which can alter the seed depth based on moisture, temperature and humus levels, using sensors.
In contrast to previous iterations of the robots, the new design features three wheels. In doing so larger diameter wheels have been used, providing more ground contact, clearance and depth control. The rear wheel provides drive, steering, depth control and consolidation of the seed slot.
The robots have also had a power boost. The capacity of the lithium-ion battery has been increased to 2.6kWh, providing enough energy for about 1.5-hours of work. The seed tank capacity has been extended to 20-litres, enough for around 0.5ha at 90,000 grains per hectare. The company says a swarm of six robots can cover three hectares per hour.
Robots measure two metres in length and have an unladen weight of 150kg. The manufacturer says wheel weights can be added to the front wheels for greater coulter pressure, taking the maximum total weight to 250kg.
The latest generation of the field robot is also equipped with the VarioGuide lane guidance system, which is said to control the robot with centimetre-accuracy. They are also integrated into the FendtONE platform and can be managed together with the rest of the machine fleet.
This allows exchange of field data, says the manufacturer, including waylines, between tractor and robot as well as between robot and database.
Having been working on the concept since 2017, the manufacturer says; “The cornerstones of our swarm system are scalability in terms of investment costs and impact, minimising failure risks from robot redundancy, and integrating autonomy and precision farming. After sowing with the Xaver, it maps all the useful crops in the field, and we can use this for all our follow-up work, such as plant protection, mechanical weed control and fertilisation, regardless of whether this is done by robots or tractors.
“The prerequisite for swarm technology is a reliable network coverage for communication. Going forward, we will use the imminent implementation of the digital strategy with a 5G network expansion in Germany and worldwide. The robots will feature future Farming 4.0 functions even with larger and more dynamic data volumes.”
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