German manufacturers Claas and Amazone have advanced their autonomous farm machinery plans through an increased investment in a Dutch agtech start-up.
The financial deal will bolster AgXeed's development and commercialisation of autonomous equipment for the agricultural sector.
AgXeed has developed several AgBot devices, including a three-wheeled version for orchards and vineyards, a four-wheeled version for cropping and a tracked version for use in the broadacre sector.
Commercial release of its first models are planned for early 2023 through selected Claas dealerships in Germany and Switzerland.
These machines are powered by a 55 or 116 kilowatt (74 or 156 horsepower) diesel-electric motor.
The units weigh six tonnes and can be fitted with a variety of implements for use in broadacre, pastures and speciality crops.
Standard features include RTK steering guidance, electronic hazard and obstacle detection, adjustable track width, load-sensing hydraulics and a three-point linkage with a lift capacity of 8t.
Claas Harvest Centre product general manager Tim Needham said the collaboration could deliver huge benefits for Australian farmers in the not-too-distant future.
Mr Needham said the ultimate goal was to not only to reduce labour input but to achieve better agronomic outcomes, safely.
"One of the greatest limitations facing agriculture in Australia is the scarcity of skilled labour," he said.
"Autonomous machines can perform time-consuming and often monotonous cropping operations, leaving farmers more time to deal with more important jobs.
"In many cases, autonomous machines can perform tasks more efficiently and accurately than humans via the use of artificial intelligence to determine job sequencing, monitoring and machine optimisation."
The newly inked deal will provide Claas and Amazone with further access to autonomous technologies, while AgXeed will benefit from the product development, sales, service and international distribution these companies offer.
Mr Needham said AgXeed's autonomous platforms were an ideal match for Claas and Amazone technology.
"AgXeed is recognised as a European leader in autonomy and robotics," he said.
"Claas is recognised as a leader in powertrain management, operator assistance, machine optimisation, data transfer and interface systems that help to optimise productivity and efficiency.
"Amazone is acknowledged as a leader in cultivation and precision seeding, spraying and spreading systems.
"This combination of expertise opens up exciting new possibilities for constructing intelligent and autonomous solutions for arable farming."
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