AI-enabled harvesters reap 720,000 tonnes of crops

AI-enabled harvesters reap 720,000 tonnes of crops
From June to October 2020, over 350 New Holland, John Deere and CLAAS autonomous combines equipped with Cognitive Agro Pilot system farmed over 160,000 hectares of field and harvested more than 720,000 tonnes of crops

Russia: Cognitive Agro Pilot, an autonomous AI-based driving system for farming equipment which was designed by Sber and its ecosystem member Cognitive Pilot – has succeeded in industrial use across 35 regions of Russia when reaping the 2020 harvest.

From June to October 2020, over 350 New Holland, John Deere and CLAAS autonomous combines equipped with Cognitive Agro Pilot system farmed over 160,000 hectares of field and harvested more than 720,000 tonnes of crops.

With the help of Cognitive Agro Pilot as many as 590,000 metric tonnes of grain crops such as wheat, soybeans, barley, oats, sorghum, buckwheat, among others, were harvested over 130,000 hectares, and some 130,000 metric tonnes of row crops and roll crops (corn, sunflower, etc.) were harvested over 30,000 hectares in Kaliningrad, Kaluga, Kursk, Belgorod, Tambov, Penza, Rostov, Tomsk, Kurgan, Krasnodar, Krasnoyarsk and Stavropol regions.

Thanks to the use of Cognitive Agro Pilot, this harvesting season stakeholders were able to save – on fuel and other related materials, shorter harvesting time (machine hours), equipment depreciation, extended active use of equipment before capital expenditures, fewer human errors, optimisation of business processes, and other parameters.

Cognitive Pilot’s clients are Russia’s largest agricultural holdings – EkoNiva, the Resource Group of Companies, Steppe Agroholding, Yug Rusi GC, Tkachev Agrocomplex, Peschanokopskaya Agrarnaya Gruppa, Yugo-Vostochnaya and Agrogruppa. According to the estimates of project members, in the next three years, every 10th harvester in Russia may become autonomous.

Olga Uskova, CEO, Cognitive Pilot said, “Controlled by the Cognitive Agro Pilot system, machines have worked over 230,000 hours, passing over 950,000 km this year. These high figures prove the setup is reliable and called-for among farmers. Partnership with Sberbank and leading agricultural holdings allows us not only to scale the use of technology efficiently but also guarantee that our clients enjoy high-quality local service.”

Anatoly Popov, Deputy Chairman of the Executive Board, Sberbank said, “A few years back, Artificial Intelligence (AI) in agriculture was a technology much talked about, but there were no practical examples of its widespread adoption in Russia. Now, once the first harvesting campaign with smart combines is over, we can say with confidence that the future is becoming a reality before our eyes, and what’s especially pleasing is that this is happening with the direct participation of Sber.”

“Russia is one of the leading countries in terms of agricultural production and is a key exporter of wheat, therefore, given the scale of production, the Cognitive Agro Pilot system has the potential to save the domestic agro-industrial complex millions of dollars,” Popov added.

Bjorne Drexler, First Deputy CEO, EkoNivaTekhnika-Holding said, “Equipping harvesters with autonomous control systems has increased the efficiency of harvesting significantly. Considering the wide dealer network of EkoNivaTekhnika-Holding and the fact that the system can be installed on any combine, regardless of the manufacturer’s brand and model, we can confidently say we’ve taken part in what is currently the largest industrial project aimed at agritech robotisation. Combine operators were among the first to appreciate the capabilities of Cognitive Agro Pilot. The system really helps in their work, reduces the load, and allows you to focus on other harvesting parameters. All this enhances the efficiency of business processes and saves resources.”

Cognitive Agro Pilot is an autonomous AI-based driving system for farming equipment such as grain combine harvesters, tractors, and sprayers. The system analyses images from just one video camera and, by using a deep learning convolutional neural network fine-tuned for agronomic purposes, understands the types and positions of objects facing the machinery, builds movement trajectories, and sends commands to perform maneuvers.

According to Cognitive Agro Pilot, this is the world’s first system that “sees” and “understands” what’s lying ahead, which is an advantage over other solutions that usually utilise a raft of tools for their control models: GPS navigation with RTK positioning. The edge capture when controlling a harvester by the Cognitive Agro Pilot system is stable at no more than 10 cm, which lets you avoid unnecessary passes and fuel losses. With the autopilot mode on, the setup avoids obstacles and stops when detecting a threat of collision with other equipment or people.

In September 2020, Cognitive Agro Pilot solution won the Overall Harvesting Innovation of the Year award at AgTec Breakthrough Awards 2020, while a year before it won the AVT ACES AWARD, which was organised by the Autonomous Vehicle Technology magazine.

The Cognitive Agro Pilot setup includes an autonomous unit to manage farm equipment, a video camera, a display, a set of connecting cables, and other elements of the control system. The user interface is available via an Android mobile app for smartphones or rugged tables.

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