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A farmer’s little helper

The Professorship of Automatic Control and System Dynamics at Chemnitz University of Technology developed a new test stand for the verification of novel control approaches for agricultural machines an

It rained for days. The soil got muddy. Tractors and agricultural machines hardly get forward on the slippery ground. The wheels spin and slips occur. The surface of the ground is destroyed by the wheels. This situation is likely known to every farmer. At this point, science might help: researchers of the Professorship of Automatic Control and System Dynamics at Chemnitz University of Technology want to identify the condition of the soil at any time to control the vehicle so as to achieve best performance and soil protection. As a consequence, the fuel consumption and the carbon footprint are reduced.

“Prior to the implementation of control algorithms, we need to perform extensive and plausible experimental verifications”, says Prof. Stefan Streif, head of the Professorship of Automatic Control and System Dynamics. For this purpose, the Chemnitz researchers developed a traction test stand which reproduces on-field dynamics of agricultural machines and tractors. It consists of a model vehicle, a driven conveyor belt, and many electronical components.

Due to the modular and flexible design of the traction test stand, different factors (tire pressure, contact surface conditions, chassis builds, drive trains, etc.) can be modeled in laboratory environment. Aside from that, the test stand can be integrated into some “precision farming frameworks” via cloud services to better manage big data that arise nowadays via various interfaces such as ISOBUS. Optimal machine performance and soil protection can be achieved via smart control algorithms which can be fused with cartographical (yield, landscape maps, satellite images, etc.) and farm management data. Various factors become subject to control – ground speed, tire pressure, implement position, etc. All these considerations are to be taken into account in the test stand.

“Like a little helper out test stand is aimed to assist the farmer in achieving best performance of the agricultural machinery”, says Streif. Precise identification of the soil conditions is the primary focus. “The Chemnitz traction test stand helps to develop novel and intelligent control and regulation systems for tractors and agricultural machines. Our major concern is energy-efficiency, productivity, and soil protection to improve the competitiveness of the farm on the market”, assures Streif. The Chemnitz test stand was introduced for the first time in Leipzig at the Zentrum der Innovation of the AGRA, the major agricultural fair in central Germany. “Agricultural machine producers already showed interest”, says the university professor. The traction test stand will be further optimized. “This means that we will continuously improve our algorithms and experimental facilities, while also contributing to the theory by developeing new optimal control methods,”, explains Streif.

Further information are available from Prof. Stefan Streif, phone +49 371 531 31899, email Stefan.streif@eti.tu-chemnitz.de

Matthias Fejes
10.07.2017

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