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Autonomous vehicle start-up cooperative

Claas has entered a cooperative venture with Dutch start-up AgXeed B.V. and acquired a minority shareholding in the company’s international funding round as a mark of its commitment.

The aim is to cooperate on the development and commercialisation of autonomous agricultural machines.

The farming industry must further increase productivity in the decades ahead to meet the needs of a growing global population. At the same time, the number of people employed in the industry, measured in terms of land area, continues to decline, while skilled labour is increasingly difficult to find in some regions and farmers still work longer hours than many other sectors.

The agricultural machinery industry has come up with various solutions to address these challenges, ranging from operator assistance and machine optimisation systems to precision farming technologies, and even autonomous machines in different size and performance classes. For Claas, collaborating with and investing in AgXeed marks a logical step towards future-proof technologies.

Netherlands-based AgXeed offers a smart, sustainable, and fully autonomous system with scalable hardware, virtual planning tools and extensive data models, making it one of Europe’s leading companies in this sector today. AgXeed will be bringing its autonomous AgBot to fields, pastures, and specialty crops alongside a full suite of vehicle peripherals. The aim is for this autonomous field robot with diesel- electric drive, wheels or crawler tracks, up to 156hp and standard three-point linkage to assist farmers with a wide range of tasks in future.

“Our involvement provides Claas with access to innovative technologies in a familiar market segment and complements our own expertise in autonomy and robotics”, explains CEO of the Claas Group, Thomas Bock.

“This type of cooperation reflects exactly what we stand for at AgXeed,” adds co-founder of AgXeed B.V., Joris Hiddema. “And this means setting up future-orientated alliances between innovative companies striving for sustainable agriculture where farmers are able to optimise productivity, while preserving the soil and the environment.”

AgBot, together with the associated software solutions and platforms, is expected to be launched in 2022. The product and services offer customers sustainable added value. The AgBot takes care of the monotonous, tedious and in some cases dangerous tasks, leaving farmers more time to deal with the challenges they face today. In concrete terms, the ecosystem surrounding the central, web-based planning and analysis tool boosts efficiency through automated, optimised route planning and machine settings. Optional crawler tracks with belt widths from 300–910 mm, combined with a low maximum weight makes the AgBot very soil friendly.

It also features an adjustable track width, load-sensing hydraulics, and a linkage with a lift capacity of up to 8t. An electric PTO, independent of the engine speed, and external high- voltage connections are optionally available.

We captured the AgBot in motion during our trip to Cereals in June:

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