AUTONOMOUS DRIVING Automated Mercedes-Benz Axors have been used in the Brazilian sugar cane harvest since 2019. Around 640 vehicles will be delivered for conversion by the end of this year.
Editor: Henrik Petro
As part of a development partnership with the Brazilian agricultural machinery manufacturer Grunner, Mercedes-Benz do Brasil configured the Mercedes-Benz Axor specifically for automated harvesting. The Axor, which has been tried and tested on the Brazilian market, is equipped with all the technological components that enable automated driving: the vehicle independently regulates the speed and distance as well as longitudinal and lateral guidance. Although the driver retains control of the truck at all times, his hands do not have to be on the steering wheel all the time. In addition to the automated driving functions, the Axor has an additional front axle, an extended tire clearance, so-called high flotation tires for agriculture and antennas to receive satellite signals.
Before the harvest vehicle can actively help on the plantation, the harvest route is determined on the computer down to the centimeter. The automated journey is controlled via cruise control, GPS and geo-referencing. The average speed is around 6 km/h. Once the Axor has been filled, the driver takes over the goods handling truck again.
Compared to a conventional tractor, significant advantages can be achieved in terms of fuel consumption, lubricant consumption and maintenance and repair costs. Precisely preset routing also increases productivity: one vehicle can harvest around twice the amount in the same time thanks to the higher average operating speed.
The self-driving Mercedes-Benz Axors with Grunner technology are tailor-made for their purpose: With the technology specially adapted to harvesting work, they are not part of Daimler Trucks’ dual strategy on the subject of autonomous driving. With its independent subsidiary Torc Robotics, Daimler Truck is driving the development of autonomous truck transport according to SAE Level 4 in the USA. The solution developed from this partnership is specialized and designed to handle traffic between distribution centers on highways – while setting the benchmark for safety, reliability and cost per mile. At the same time, Daimler Truck is working with Waymo. The goal: to combine Waymo’s autonomous driving technology with the Freightliner Cascadia, which should be available in the USA in the coming years.