Development of autonomous navigation controller for agricultural vehicles
International Journal of Agricultural and Biological Engineering
Agricultural vehicles are adopted to undertake farming tasks by traversing along crop rows in the field. Working quality depends significantly on the driving skills of the operator. Automatic guidance has been introduced into agriculture to achieve high-accuracy path tracking during the last decades, which contributes considerably to straight-line navigation. The objective of this research was to develop an autonomous navigation controller that allowed movement autonomy for various agricultural
... arious agricultural vehicles. Three wheel-type vehicles were used as the test platform featuring automatic steering, hydrostatic transmission and speed control, which included a rice transplanter, a high-clearance sprayer and a tractor. A dual-antenna RTK-GNSS receiver was attached to the vehicles to provide spatial information on both positioning and heading by using the RTX service from Trimble. A path planning method was proposed to create a straight-line reference path by giving two points, and the target path was determined according to the vehicle initial status and working assignment. Headland turning was comprehensively taken into account by listing different turn patterns in order to realize autonomous navigation at the headland. The navigation controller hardware was fabricated for program execution, data processing and information communication with peripherals. A human-machine interface was designed for the operator to complete basic setting, path planning and navigation control by providing controls. Field experiments were conducted to evaluate the performance and versatility of the newly developed autonomous navigation controller in guiding agricultural vehicles to follow straight paths and turn at the headland. Results showed that an appropriate turn pattern was automatically executed when finishing straight-line navigation. The lateral error in straight-line tracking was no more than 6 cm, 6 cm and 5 cm for the rice transplanter, the high-clearance sprayer and the tractor, respectively. And the maximum lateral RMS error was 3.10 cm, 4.75 cm, 2.21 cm in terms of straight-line tracking, which indicated that the newly developed autonomous navigation controller was versatile and of high robustness in guiding various agricultural vehicles.