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John Deere's Electric Self-Driving Sprayer Looks Like a Military Vehicle

It's designed to reduce the amount of herbicide needed.

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John Deere recently unveiled what it’s calling the world’s first and only fully electric autonomous herbicide orchard sprayer and it looks more like a military vehicle than a farm implement.

The agriculture equipment specialist teamed with GUSS Automation, an unmanned sprayer business that began as part of Crinklaw Farm Services, to electrify the GUSS. The new machine builds off the groundwork laid by the GUSS herbicide sprayer launched last year but lets growers remotely control more sprayers. It includes a spot spraying weed detection system for targeting only areas where chlorophyll is present, which the companies said significantly reduces the overall application amount used.

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The adjustable spray booms are controlled by hydraulics and can accommodate up to 22 feet of row spacing. The booms can be tilted upward for berm spraying and they’re designed to break away to help prevent damage to trees and crops.

The Electric GUSS relies on batteries from KREISEL that can handle a full spraying shift on a single, full charge. The machine also uses GPS and Light Detection and Ranging (LiDAR) to fine tune its coverage and allow one employee to operate and monitor a fleet of up to eight GUSS machines using a laptop computer. The autonomous capabilities are also backed by several safety features for avoiding hazards and pausing operations when people are nearby.

"We have been asked countless times about making GUSS electric. An electric herbicide sprayer made the most sense to us, given that the battery life can last an entire shift while performing this critical orchard task. Combining the battery's electric benefits of low operating costs and zero tailpipe emissions with spot spraying weed detection technology makes Electric GUSS a winner," said Gary Thompson, COO at GUSS Automation, in a statement.

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