Radar brings more safety to agricultural machines
Continental is to present its latest assistance systems for agricultural machinery. The technology company sees environment detection as a decisive topic for the automated future of agriculture and uses its know-how in passenger cars and trucks as the technological springboard for high-tech in agriculture. Gilles Mabire, Head of Continental’s Commercial Vehicles & Aftermarket Business Unit, sees the company on a direct path towards autonomous agricultural machinery.
As a contribution to road safety, Continental has developed a left-turn assist for tractors and agricultural machines. The system aims at an obvious “safety gap” with agricultural machines: Left-hand turn of such vehjcles on public roads has turned out to be particular risky.
The system warns the driver of obstacles on the left side of the vehicle by means of an acoustic or optical signal. The system can detect approaching vehicles at a distance of up to 250 meters, using 77 gigahertz radar technology, which captures the vehicle environment in a significantly higher resolution than before. In contrast to the mirrors and cameras typically used for similar purpose, radar sensors enable precise distance control; the sensor can ‘look’ back and determine the speed of the oncoming vehicles and the distance between them and the agricultural machine, Continental explains. What’s more, radar sensors are independent of weather and lighting conditions, and the system does not overload the driver with information because the driver is only warned in an emergency. Technologically, the left-turn radar assist is similar to the right-turn assist for trucks, which will be mandatory for all new EU vehicle types from 2022. Future versions will likely merge radar and camera signals, a company spokesperson explained.
This sensor fusion, initially of radar and camera information, will also be applied to the digital camera system ProViu 360 in the future. Production of the ProViu 360 is scheduled to start in 2020, and a total of four 1.3 megapixel cameras will be used, giving the driver a bird’s eye view of his machine.
This enables the system to deliver sharper images in HD resolution, displayed on a 10-inch HD touch display. The next step will then see ProViu 360 becoming intelligent. Markers, icons and texts will be placed on the camera image as augmented reality.
The magnetically fixed and wireless WLAN cameras that Continental is currently developing are of particular interest for retrofitting agricultural machinery. Due to their small, 7-centimeter diameter, these round cameras with fisheye lenses can be mounted in previously impossible or too complicated locations – on the shovel of a wheel loader, for example, or on the back of a trailer. With its protection class IP69K, the camera is more or less immune against external influences and its batteries are inductively charged without any exposed contacts. The painted surface of the vehicle is protected by the camera’s rubber jacket. The neodymium magnet and an acceleration sensor ensure enormous flexibility. The magnet can be attached to metallic surfaces and withstands all rough usage. Thanks to the acceleration sensor, the image aligns itself automatically, but the operator still has the freedom to pan or zoom the image. Drivers who are familiar with their own usage scenarios can also attach holders to the important spots on their machine. With a short connection to the next live cable, charging is automated, and thanks to an RFID chip, the camera immediately recognizes which machine it has been attached to, and the field of view is automatically adjusted.
Agritechnica takes place in Hanover (Germany) from November 10 to 16, 2019.
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