Most off-road vehicles, from utility vehicles to small transporters, do not comply with the same safety requirements associated with on-road vehicles. However, if a farmer wants to drive his off-road vehicle to relocate between different fields, access to the field is often only possible via a public highway or road.
Most farmers also want to reduce or minimise their vehicle inventories by owning multi-purpose vehicles. Retrofitting agriculture vehicles with digital communication and safety systems addresses the need to buy an entirely new machine while modernising the vehicle in line with the evolution of autonomous vehicles.
However, rural environments create unique challenges for automated vehicles. For example, navigating both on and off-road terrain means that the technology has to navigate farm tracks which are likely to be full of potholes, not to mention avoid (or even open) access gates to fields.
The automotive industry already heavily invests in advanced communication and sensory technology to improve on-road safety. However, there’s little research to indicate how, and if, the same safety systems could be adapted for off-road vehicles. The CAV3 project aimed to address this research and knowledge gap.
As a feasibility project, CAV3 had two core components:
- Evaluating a range of commercially-available sending packages to find which is most suitable for a combination of on and off-road use.
- Testing the most promising packages to identify areas where further development is needed and advantageous. The project also tested where failure could occur and determined the appropriate steps for troubleshooting when integrating this technology into off-road farming vehicles.
As a feasibility study, the CAV3 project lay the groundwork for subsequent projects involving implementing technology to enable autonomous farming vehicles. The innovative Hands Free Farm project continued the CAV3 feasibility study while the Hands Free Hectare project aimed to develop the first autonomous vehicle to grow, tend and harvest crops without a human operator in the driving seat.
By conducting research into the safety and feasibility of off-road communication systems within autonomous agriculture and farming vehicles, CAV3 offered valuable insights for future projects aimed at complying with safety on-road regulations.
CAV3 determined and evaluated the commercially available sensing packages and subsequently identified the most applicable digital systems for integrating and testing on pre-existing autonomous agricultural vehicles.
The project duration was from 01/07/2018 and concluded on 30/06/2019.