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AutoFarm Case Study

AutoFarm LogoAutoFarm® Enables Automated, Ultra Precise Farm Cultivation Using Analog Devices' MEMS Inertial Sensor Technologies —

GPS-enabled AutoFarm ParaDyme™ system facilitates automatic steering of farm equipment with sub-inch accuracy.

Though rooted in age-old farming practices, modern commercial agriculture is managed with the same precision automation that characterizes other major industries, from robotics to industrial automation and beyond. Operating on a massive scale with thin profit margins, enterprises in these markets continually look for opportunities to enhance process efficiency to boost overall productivity and profitability. As such, they have been among the first to embrace the emerging technology of machine control which utilizes global positioning systems (GPS) to position and pilot heavy machinery – from tractors to commercial aircraft – to ensure optimal operation.

 AutoFarm's ParaDyme auto steering system is designed to be roof-mounted on farming vehicles.
 AutoFarm's ParaDyme auto steering system is
designed to be roof-mounted on farming vehicles.

AutoFarm® (Freemont, California), a division of Novariant™, is at the forefront of the 'precision agriculture' movement with its advanced machine control technology. The company's portfolio of automatic steering and data monitoring solutions for farming vehicles ensures precision cultivation throughout the full crop cycle, enabling operations such as tillage, planting, chemical and fertilizer application, and harvesting to be performed in a manner that maximizes crop productivity and yield while minimizing time, labor and material inputs. AutoFarm auto steering systems also significantly reduce the environmental impact of farming operations by reducing fuel usage and eliminating excess chemical and fertilizer application.

The AutoFarm ParaDyme™ system enables an unprecedented level of automated steering control for farming vehicles thanks in part to Analog Devices' advanced MEMS inertial sensor technology. With precision ADI iMEMS® accelerometers and iSensor® gyroscopes at the heart of the system, farming vehicles can be piloted automatically to within one inch of the desired path.

Advanced ADI MEMS Inertial Sensing for Precision Agriculture

AutoFarm ParaDyme systems utilize ADI's ultra precise iMEMS ±1.7g dual-axis inertial accelerometers and iSensor ±80°/sec yaw rate gyroscopes to measure vehicle motion and orientation, respectively. These sophisticated ADI inertial sensors are an integral element within AutoFarm's advanced Logic7D® technology, which enables real-time precision vehicle control that will compensate for changes in operating conditions such as cargo weight, vehicle-attached farming implements, and the terrain where it operates. Working in concert with the integrated GPS, the iSensor gyroscope enables the ParaDyme sytem to track yaw at all times ensuring precise 'line acquisition' accuracy. The iMEMS accelerometer enables the ParaDyme system to identify and adjust to changes in vehicle speed in both forward and reverse.

TractorSince a single prolonged lapse in GPS connectivity can compromise ParaDyme system performance, the AutoFarm product design team looked to ADI for sensors that would maintain GPS signal integrity. In the event of a GPS signal drop-out, the ADI MEMS sensors act as a 'flywheel' to maintain vehicle orientation and help ensure accurate vehicle positioning.

These ADI MEMS sensors also enable the ParaDyme system to detect and compensate for vehicle yaw (or "crabbing") on hillside terrain. This is a critical function that enables a vehicle to persist on the intended travel path while navigating a slope – even with cargo or devices in tow – to minimize gaps in between crop rows and/or row overlap. Additionally, the ADI MEMS sensors enable the ParaDyme system to compensate for lever-arm motion in between the system’s GPS antennas and the vehicle's hitch point.

The iSensor gyroscope uses Analog Devices' advanced surface-micromachining process to make a functionally complete angular rate sensor with an integrated serial peripheral interface (SPI). ADI gyroscopes are designed to provide low power consumption in a compact form factor, and to survive severe shock/vibration and heat-intensive applications like farm equipment, offering 2000g shock survivability and 105˚C temperature tolerance.

The iMEMS accelerometer is a high precision, low power, dual-axis accelerometer with signal conditioned voltage outputs, all on a single, monolithic integrated circuit. This precise inertial sensor measures acceleration with a full-scale range of ±1.7 g, and can measure both dynamic acceleration (for example, vibration) and static acceleration (for example, gravity).

The high performance, high precision ADI iMEMS and iSensor technologies integrated within AutoFarm's ParaDyme system enable farm owners and operators to achieve unmatched, automated vehicle steering accuracy that maximizes productivity at every stage of the crop cultivation cycle. Melding advanced machine control technology with modern farming, ParaDyme is distinguished as the driving force behind the precision agriculture movement.

iMEMS and iSensor are registered trademarks of Analog Devices, Inc.