John Deere isnít the only manufacturer of automated guidance systems for the ag industry. Among others working on automated steering is Trimble, a California-based maker of navigation products founded by three Hewlett-Packard engineers in 1978. The company has teamed with Case IH and New Holland to build its AgGPS Autopilot units into tractors. A sampler of Trimble component technology:
Lightbar: Using an LCD screen and 32 bright LEDs, the AgGPS EZ-Guide lightbars enable operators to manually steer equipment along a line prescribed by a GPS receiver.
FieldManager Display: The AgGPS Display employs a large touch screen and proprietary software for GPS guidance, automated steering controls and field pattern options.
GPS receivers: AgGPS receivers use satellite communications and then send the data to navigation controllers.†
Navigation controller: The Navcontroller II uses data from the GPS receiver and internal sensors, then sends precise instructions to the steering systemís control valve.
Control valve: A hydraulic control valve receives electrical signals from the Navcontroller and converts them to hydraulic commands for the steering system.† †