Fendt demonstrates new generation Xaver field robots

At the Fendt press event on September 3, the German brand presented its latest generation of Xaver field robots. The robot now has 3 instead of 4 wheels. It is now also equipped with a seeding unit with a disc coulter. The robot serves as a development platform for future technologies on large Fendt agricultural machines.

Fendt Xaver ensures lower ground pressure
Fendt has been researching future strategies such as robotics and swarm intelligence in which multiple robots are working on the same field at the same time since 2017. According to Fendt, the Xaver field robot ensures lower ground pressure, lower energy consumption, a noise free operation and reduced emission of harmful gases. The robot can also reduce labour costs.

20 liter seed hopper
The Xaver is now equipped with a seeder with one coulter and a 20 liter seed hopper. This seed tank can carry enough for approximately 0.5 hectare at 90,000 seeds / ha. The individual grain seeds are sown with an accuracy of a few centimeters by an electrically driven system. The seeds are sown at a set distance from each other.

Smart Firmer from Precision Planting
In the future, Smart Firmer from Precision Planting will be installed. The sensors will measure soil moisture, soil temperature, organic matter content and the amount of plant residues in order to determine the correct depth of the seed. The three-wheeled robot now has the rear wheel in the middle. In addition to driving the robot, this wheel also acts as a firming wheel. The soil above the seed is thus closed and lightly compacted so that moisture remains in the soil and the seed can germinate.

The larger wheels of the Fendt Xaver now offer a larger contact surface, increased ground clearance and more precise depth control. The rear wheel is steered and can, in combination with all wheel drive, turn on a 2 meter headland. By placing wheel weights in the two front wheels, the weight of the robot can be increased up to a maximum loaded weight of 250 kg. The empty weight of the Xaver is only 150 kg.

The 48 volts lithium-ion battery is available in a 1.8 or 2.6 kWh version. The power per wheel is 400 Watt. Each battery charge is enough to empty one seed hopper at a time and return to the charging station. The battery can be fully charged in 40 minutes.

The purpose of the Xaver is mainly to conduct research into intelligent systems that can later be applied to large Fendt machines. One of these systems is the OptiVizer algorithm. This algorithm optimises the path planning of the Xaver and advises the correct route so that it does not collide with another robot.

Each robot gets its own space in the plot. After determining the correct path, the robots take turns going through the entrance of the field and starting the operation on the assigned part of the field. When one robot breaks down, another robot automatically takes over and finishes the job.

The Xaver sends data according to the MQTT protocol via a SIM card to the Xaver page in the Fendt One application and can therefore be tracked in realtime from any location. MQTT is an OASIS standard messaging protocol for the Internet of Things (IoT). It is designed as an extremely lightweight publish/subscribe messaging transport that is ideal for connecting remote devices with a small code footprint and minimal network bandwidth.

Autonomous crop protection
The focus is now mainly on solving malfunctions in the system and developing a robot that can both observe and process. How fast the development of the Xaver goes mainly depends on regulations. When more pesticides are banned and labour costs increase, the demand for autonomous crop protection methods will increase. In addition, a robot operates more precise and makes fewer mistakes.

The newly developed Fendt Xaver has no price tag. This robot will not be launched on the market in this form. The fact that the robot is now equipped with a seeding unit does not mean that it has been specifically developed for seeding. Fendt’s project leader Johannus Utz rather thinks that the Xaver will be used for hoeing or spot spray crop protection, because sowing will probably not be cheaper than the current € 45 / ha.