The GridCON research project and tractor are part of the company’s continued efforts in the electrification of agricultural machinery. John Deere says they are offering new opportunities for farms to supply and use their own energy.
The company presented their first fully electric tractor, known as the SESAM (Sustainable Energy Supply for Agricultural Machinery), in 2016.
The GridCON tractor looks very different from its predecessor, there is no cab and the rows of batteries underneath the bonnet are also notably absent. It is the first vehicle to be fully electric, permanently cable powered and capable of fully autonomous operation in the field.
The new model is based on a John Deere 6210R tractor and GridCON utilises a cable connection from the field border to the machine. This transfers power continuously at over 300kW. A 100kW electric motor powers the IVT transmission, and there is an additional outlet for implements powered by a 200kW electric motor.
Up to 1,000m of cable is carried by a drum fixed to the front of the tractor although according to John Deere, the length can be extended if required. The cable is fed out and reeled in by a guided robot arm. This keeps the operation friction free and at low load. An intelligent guidance system is also used to prevent the tractor from running into or over the cable.
In the Field
The GridCon tractor follows preset rows fully autonomously at operating speeds of up to just over 20kph. The vehicle can also be guided manually using a remote control, which helps with manoeuvring the tractor when working on field borders.
As reported by John Deere, a power supply of 2.5kV AC is required, and the GridCON tractor uses a 700V DC bus for electric power distribution both onboard and for implements. The machine employs a cooling infrastructure for off-board electrical use, while total efficiency of the drivetrain is in the region of 85%.
The GridCON project concept offers the twin benefits of noiseless and emission-free operation. Compared to battery-powered tractors, the GridCON tractor also delivers around 50% lower machine and operating costs.
The GridCON project is funded by the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy and managed by the German Aerospace Centre eV (DLR) in Cologne. It is a joint project of John Deere, the University of Kaiserslautern and BAUM Consult GmbH.
Photo Credit: John Deere