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Precise positioning takes autonomous capabilities to new heights

Trimble's Gordon Hain reveals inside info about AV tech;  customers provide real-world perspective

With rising operational and material costs, a shallow pool of skilled operators and declining  interest in working with heavy equipment, the need has never been greater for real-world solutions that support transportation, agriculture, construction, mining and more. 

This fuels Trimble’s drive to deliver cutting-edge autonomous technology that empowers industries to work better, faster, cheaper, safer and greener via precise positioning, path planning, obstacle detection, ground truthing, machine control, etc. 

By enabling solutions with an emphasis on GNSS positioning and orientation, which we consider fundamental for the key role it plays in guidance, steering, optimal path planning, obstacle avoidance, etc., we can also make work safer for crews in any working conditions.

OEMs set the boundaries, we make it happen.

The culmination of solutions we’ve developed since has resulted in partnerships that have led to the creation of some of the most advanced autonomous systems in the market. These include the first-of-its kind autonomous HORSCH sprayer, and the first-ever autonomous compactor in partnership with Dynapac.

Use case: Better compaction through control and consistency

The need to provide end users with better ways to achieve efficiency, productivity, consistency and quality control were at the root of Dynapac’s motivation for creating an autonomous compactor.

Through extensive collaboration, Trimble’s engineers set out to neutralize factors like overlap irregularities, where either too many or too few passes are made, jeopardizing material integrity and leading to potential rework. Beyond workflow quality enhancements, Dynapac also sought an autonomous compacting solution that would: 

  • Enhance safety, putting fewer humans in hazardous environments

  • Allow for extended working hours

  • Provide a solution to skilled labor shortage challenges

Overall, the autonomous compactor has demonstrated a 10-15% efficiency improvement, according to Dynapac Application Specialist Fredrik Åkesson.

Use case: limiting chemicals in our food supply

Several years back, SAGA Robotics conceptualized an autonomous system to provide a more efficient and sustainable way to treat strawberry and grapevine crops. In the end, they called on Trimble’s expertise and reputation to bring their Thorvald electric mildew-control robot to fruition.

By using Trimble RTX precise point positioning technology, RTK and other services, the Thorvald uses UV-C light to keep these fragile crops from being destroyed by powdery mildew, negating the need to spray fungicide. The Thorvald — which works practically silently, day and night — is also capable of driving itself to and from the field. 

In  retrospect, SAGA Robotics reports that Trimble has proven itself “up to the task of providing reliable tech to support our solutions, which help people consume fewer chemicals.”

The path to autonomy is a marathon, not a sprint

Trimble follows six guiding principles in its approach to enabling autonomy:

  • Modular approach. Our software modules implement well defined APIs, ensuring streamlined integration, interoperability and support of different use cases.

  • Safety matters. New technology requires an element of risk, but we prioritize making smart decisions that minimize risk to people and property.

  • Evolution, not revolution. There is great value to the customer in taking incremental steps along the journey, not monumental leaps.

  • Partnership matters. Complex problems are best solved by collaboration; we work together as a team.

  • Innovate. Many problems in autonomy space have not yet been solved. The path to success will be winding, using creative problem-solving to get there. 

  • Delight the user. Deliver robust solutions that are easy to use, streamlined implementation, documentation and integration support services. 

Learn how Trimble can help you work smarter — not harder — by watching the “Precise Positioning for Autonomous Automation and Robotics” webinar replay.