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Agriculture

CAN-enabled autonomous agricultural machinery

Kvaser reviews two research projects about how using the CAN network to advance the possibilities of autonomous vehicles and agricultural machinery at the same time.

(Photo: Fotolia)

Santosh K. Pitla, Ph.D., is Assistant Professor of advanced machinery systems at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln, a school well known for its agriculture and land management programs. His research has focused on improving efficiencies within agricultural machinery, specifically in tractors.

In a recent case study, Kvaser reviews two of Dr. Pitla’s research projects and how he is using the company’s devices to advance the possibilities of agricultural technology to meet demands for increased efficiency on large-scale industrial farming operations.

For one project, Dr. Pitla and his team have developed and built a field-ready 40-horsepower robotic tractor, nicknamed the “Flex-Ro,” using a Kvaser Leaf Light HS v2 to establish communication between the high-level software and the distributed CAN controllers within the autonomous vehicle platform. Modern-day tractors utilize CAN to facilitate communication between various MCUs and for sensor data acquisition. The ISO 11783 protocol defines the communication standard for the tractor communication network. This is based on SAE J1939, a communication standard for off-road machinery.

The Leaf Light HS V2 is a high speed USB interface for CAN that offers loss free transmission and reception of standard and extended CAN messages on the CAN network.

Another of Dr. Pitla’s projects uses a Kvaser USBcan Pro 2xHS v2 to collect operational data from tractors in the field to determine the real-time load demands of the vehicles depending on different tasks, terrains, implements used, times of the year, and operators.

The USBcan Pro 2xHS v2 is a USB to dual-channel Classical CAN or CAN FD interface with scripting capability. It comes with a standard USB connector and high-speed CAN channels with ISO 11898-2 compliant CAN transceivers in two separate 9-pin D-SUB CAN connectors. It can be used as a simple dual-channel interface to connect two high speed CAN networks to a PC or mobile computer, or can be programmed to do more.

Analyzing the data collected from the tractor’s CAN network will create a better understanding of actual tractor power consumption in varying conditions, and can be used to create more accurate estimates of average load conditions.

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