Presenter: Nathaniel B. Powell
Advisor(s): Dr. Mike D. Boyette
Author(s): Nathaniel B. Powell
Graduate Program: Biological and Agricultural Engineering

Title: The development of an autonomous agricultural machine

Abstract: Autonomous agricultural vehicles are the next major step in agriculture. An autonomous zero turning radius lawnmower was developed to serve as both a test platform for further autonomous systems development and as an agricultural machine with significant ability in its own right. The objective of this project was to develop a small, low cost machine which navigates with high precision using differential global positioning system technology. Standard commercially available parts were used to reduce development times and costs. A zero turning radius commercial grade lawnmower was used as the mechanical platform. Two different GPS systems with different capabilities and different overall cost were used. This allowed for a performance comparison between differential GPS using corrections transmitted by commercial satellite and real time kinematic GPS using corrections transmitted by a local base station. These two types of GPS are the types of GPS most commonly used for agricultural navigation. Single-board computers were used for data collection and processing and for controlling the navigation of the machine. The machine has been tested on straight lines of 50-60m and demonstrates 2-sigma crosstrack errors of 0.46m to either side of the line.