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Step into the Autonomy Zone at FPSStep into the Autonomy Zone at FPS

Get a glimpse of tomorrow, here today at the Farm Progress Show!

Tom J. Bechman

August 28, 2023

2 Min Read
An autonomous tractor on display in the middle of a field
LOOK, MOM, NO BODY! Forget no hands. Raven OmniDrive technology under development allows you to go without even a warm body in the cab — you just need someone in control in the field.Betty Haynes

Strange things happened on the “Twilight Zone,” an iconic TV thriller featuring the voice of the late Rod Serling. At the introduction of each show, Serling said, “There is a fifth dimension, beyond that which is known to man. It is a dimension as vast as space and as timeless as eternity.”

Some may believe agriculture is approaching the “Twilight Zone,” as more autonomous equipment becomes reality. But most agree the equipment solves the No. 1 problem facing ag: lack of labor.

“Several advertisers are ready or almost ready to bring autonomous equipment to market, and Farm Progress set aside an area where exhibitors could show what their equipment can do,” says Matt Jungmann, Farm Progress national events director.

That area is the Autonomy Zone, located near the Ride ’n’ Drive area, just off the north end of the showgrounds. Rick Wild, on-site show manager, says the Autonomy Zone and Ride ’n’ Drive area will be continuous. When enough people gather, exhibitors will demonstrate their machines.

What to see

Here’s what to see at the Autonomy Zone:

Raven technology. Rachel Hennen of Raven says the company will rotate a couple of technologies. See how Raven OmniDrive lets an operator control a tractor, and a grain cart or a Case IH fertilizer spreader without a driver. It’s what Raven refers to as “Path to Autonomy,” where the operator is in the field not the cab. Also, Raven cart automation will demonstrate technology that assists the operator on the machine so he or she can do other things.

Sabanto autonomy. The company is ready to bring after-market autonomy to tractors. Find out what autonomy looks like when it jumps off the page or screen before your eyes. Think this is a dimension too far? Sabanto is establishing a dealer network across the country, ready to put products you can touch and feel to work on farms.

Ryse Aero technology. Technically not autonomous, this aircraft qualifies simply because it’s way cool, Jungmann says. A hit at the 2022 Farm Progress Show, the tech will likely turn even more heads this year.

The company claims it’s a drone anyone can fly — while riding inside and not operating it from the ground. Company specs say it can carry 250 pounds at 63 mph and fly for 25 minutes. See it to believe it.

More surprises. Jungmann expects more companies to demonstrate products in the zone. All the t’s weren’t crossed at press time. Venture out to see what other surprises await.

The 2023 Farm Progress Show is Aug. 29-31. Learn more at FarmProgressShow.com, and check out the digital edition of the official program.

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About the Author(s)

Tom J. Bechman

Editor, Indiana Prairie Farmer, Farm Progress

Tom J. Bechman is editor of Indiana Prairie Farmer. He joined Farm Progress in 1981 as a field editor, first writing stories to help farmers adjust to a difficult harvest after a tough weather year. His goal today is the same — writing stories that help farmers adjust to a changing environment in a profitable manner.

Bechman knows about Indiana agriculture because he grew up on a small dairy farm and worked with young farmers as a vocational agriculture teacher and FFA advisor before joining Farm Progress. He works closely with Purdue University specialists, Indiana Farm Bureau and commodity groups to cover cutting-edge issues affecting farmers. He specializes in writing crop stories with a focus on obtaining the highest and most economical yields possible.

Tom and his wife, Carla, have four children: Allison, Ashley, Daniel and Kayla, plus eight grandchildren. They raise produce for the food pantry and house 4-H animals for the grandkids on their small acreage near Franklin, Ind.

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