A laser-based measurement sensor supports the mapping and automation of work processes in agriculture.
A 2D laser distance scanner with robust evaluation electronics, developed by Linz Center of Mechatronics GmbH (LCM) specially for use in agriculture, allows flexible use for a multitude of applications.
Determination of the relative position of the tractor in relation to features on fields and meadows actively supports the driver and optimizes a wide variety of work processes. For example, during mowing it is possible to reliably detect the mowing edge. Intelligent evaluation algorithms transform this data into a reliable image of the environment and deliver corresponding control commands to the tractor. Any overlapping of the cutting zones is avoided by an active steering control system. A similar situation applies to the loading of hay. Optimal steering and speed control can be achieved through detection of the swath cross section. With this assistance system the working time is reduced and the driver is sustainingly relieved of performing what have now become unnecessary tasks.
This new system rectifies many of the disadvantages of existing systems, such as the large space requirement for long boom arms for sensors, low accuracy of the measured values, expensive GPS-based steering systems, low measuring rates and therefore no deployment as a real-time system, etc. Mounting of the compact sensor on the tractor’s cab does not impair the manoeuvrability of the rig and enables the integration of several applications into one system.
The algorithms have been implemented into self-made robust evaluation electronics in order to compensate in the measurement signal for the effects of scanner vibration during movement of the vehicle, the inclined position of the tractor in relation to the ground and a large number of different environmental influences. Attention has been paid in particular to immunity to interference and to the detection and elimination of error conditions in order that the control signals delivered to the tractor are suitable for automated operation.
This way it is possible at relatively low cost and in a relatively small space to increase the efficiency of harvest usage and to bring in the harvest more quickly, more precisely and at lower cost.