“It’s our goal to help reduce grower fatigue and help them make the most of their harvest,” says Veatch. “As growers ourselves, we know how crucial it is to be productive during the short planting and harvest windows.”

The technology was originally developed in a laboratory setting using computer simulations. Kinze engineers partnered with Jaybridge Robotics in Cambridge, Mass., to bring the technology from the lab to the field and to test and refine the work.

Kinze engineers have planted a crop using the new technology, according to Brian McKown, chief operating officer for Kinze. “We believe the Kinze Autonomy Project will allow farmers to handle a number of tasks involved in nourishing their crops.”

McKown said Kinze is in the beginning stages of deciding how best to utilize the system. The company has not laid out firm plans for marketing the new technology or how much the technology may cost.

“We had to make sure the technology worked first,” he said, noting that Kinze has been working on the closely-guarded technology for about two years. “Our marketing personnel didn’t know anything about this project until a few days ago.”

Besides working on the guidance technology, Kinze has also performed extensive obstacle detection testing to ensure the accuracy and safety of the autonomous equipment. Engineers simulated real-world scenarios to ensure equipment would detect objects such as fence posts, stand pipes and farm animals.

Similar autonomous technology has been used since the 1990s in other industries, including mining, construction and the military. “Some simple forms of autonomy are used in rice production and orchard operations,” said Veatch.

“However, until now, no other manufacturer associated with row crop production has offered truly autonomous technology like this.”