CNH’s recent acquisition of technology manufacturer Raven Industries has done nothing to slow down Raven’s commitment to move the needle on autonomous systems as rapidly as possible. Raven announced its OMNi platform this past spring to bring together its various “driverless ag technology” offerings under a single ecosystem.
Raven also announced the rebranding of two of its acquisitions within that platform – SmartAg SmartCart, the autonomous grain cart technology, became OMNiDRIVE, and the DOT modular, autonomous tractor technology became OMNiPOWER.
At the summer shows, Raven is demonstrating its OMNiDRIVE and OMNiPOWER systems, for which the company began taking orders this past spring. The company recently said that it is on pace to meet its limited release of 75 OMNiDRIVE units sold through its dealer channel as demo units and retail units. All available units have been allocated for the 2021 growing season – all new orders will have delivery in 2022.
The framework for sales and service is well underway for OMNiDRIVE, with a dozen dealers – including ag retailers Agtegra in South Dakota and Central Valley Ag in Nebraska – that have undergone the challenging training regimen to achieve certification, says Nick Langerock, Raven’s Director of Strategic Marketing.
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“Each dealer has gone through an intensive online curriculum and testing, then attended a two- to three-day hands-on training course at the Raven training facility,” he says. The would-be dealer is then required to purchase and install an OMNiDRIVE system at their own facility, which is audited by Raven personnel. This essentially becomes the demonstration unit that dealers will rely on to show and sell the OMNiDRIVE system.
“We’ve taken a ‘train the trainer’ approach to getting the system out,” says Langerock. “As part of their commitment, dealers must be advocates for transferring technology into the market.” This includes hosting demonstration days that Raven personnel help to create and execute. “Agtegra is having one soon, and more than 200 individuals are registered,” he adds. “Many of our dealers have already hosted one.”
Currently, the OMNiDRIVE system is limited to one combine and one grain cart per system, ideal for small grain farmers. “The majority of our success is in small grains, but there is a lot of interest from corn growers in the system who want to use multiple grain carts and multiple combines,” says Langerock. Addressing that demand is a big future target as the system is developed further and fine-tuned.
The OMNiDRIVE system installation is all within the tractor. A Raven-manufactured tablet is required to control the components, which include systems for perception, propulsion, breaking, and connectivity. Broadband availability is important, but Langerock notes that the system provides redundancy to ensure proper operation is always possible.
OMNiDRIVE is currently available for use in John Deere 8Rs Powershift and IVT tractors from model years 2010 and after. It is scheduled for October 2021 availability in Magnum CVT models M250 / 280 / 310 / 340 / 380, model years 2014-2020 and New Holland CVT T8.320 / 350 / 380 / 410 / 435, model years 2014-2020.
The OMNiPOWER system is being demonstrated at major farm shows through the end of the year. Click here for a current list.