The concept of the driverless tractor has been discussed in the scientific literature for decades and several tractor manufacturers now have prototypes being field-tested. Although farmers will not be required to be physically present on these machines, it is envisioned that they will remain a part of the human-automation system. The overall efficiency and safety to be attained by autonomous agricultural machines (AAMs) will be correlated with the effectiveness of information sharing between the AAM and the farmer through what might be aptly called an automation interface. In this supervisory scenario, the farmer would be able to both receive status information and send instructions. In essence, supervisory control of an AAM is similar to the current scenario where farmers physically present on their machines obtain status information from displays integrated into the machine and from general sensory information that is available due to their proximity to the operating machine. Therefore, there is reason to expect that real-time sensory information would be valuable to the farmer when remotely supervising an AAM through an automation interface. This chapter will provide an overview of recent research that has been conducted on the role of real-time sensory information to the task of remotely supervising an AAM.
Part of the book: Technology in Agriculture