The problem: Hard to find good labour on the farm to drive the grain cart for a few weeks each year. Also it is a pretty boring job that no one really wants to do.
The solution: Put an autopilot from drones into my tractor to make it autonomous.
This is an ongoing project that I started in January of 2015. By the fall of 2015 I had it working enough that we actually used it in the field. Since then I've continued to make improvements. The biggest changes have been swapping out the actuators in the cab of the tractor for some digital logic run by arduinos, building the box to contain all the components, and a substantial rewrite of the software that controls the tractor, which still needs to be tested and debugged before this years harvest. That will make for some interesting build logs. Testing new software that controls a large machine is always a nerve-racking experience :)
Here's a video that shows the tractor at work this past fall. Please note the tractor is totally autonomous except for the part where it is unloading grain into the truck at around 1:06. Also Reimer Robotics is not a company at this point it's still just me hacking on my own stuff but I wanted to put a name on it in case it ever becomes something. There is a bunch of other videos on my you tube channel that go into a lot of detail about the process of getting as far as I did. Ill post them throughout the build logs as I add to this project but feel free to check them out on you tube if you can't wait.
- ArduPilot (The license file can be found here)
- Autonomous Grain Cart (All my custom code located here includes software that runs in the combine for interacting with the tractor and all of the code that I run on embedded arduinos in the cab of the tractor for controlling operation. There is no license file please feel free to copy and redistribute to your hearts content but it must remain open source!)
- DroneKit Python (The license file can be found here)
- Pixhawk (There is more hardware than this but this is the building block I started with I'll post the rest in the components section in the future.)