Biological Systems Engineering


Date of this Version



Published in Computers and Electronics in Agriculture 72 (2010) 107–118; doi:10.1016/j.compag.2010.03.004 Copyright © 2010 Elsevier BV. Used by permission.


A vision sensing system for the measurement of auto-guidance pass-to-pass and long-term errors was implemented to test the steering performance of tractors equipped with auto-guidance systems. The developed test system consisted of an optical machine vision sensor rigidly mounted on the rear of the tested tractor. The center of the drawbar hitch pin point was used as the reference from which to measure the deviation of the tractor’s actual travel path from its desired path. The system was built and calibrated to a measurement accuracy of better than 2 mm. To evaluate the sensor, two auto-guidance systems equipped with RTK-level GNSS receivers were tested and the results for different travel speeds compared. Pass-to-pass and long-term errors were calculated using the relative positions of a reference at a collocated point when the tractor was operated in opposite directions within 15 min and more than 1 h apart, respectively. In addition to variations in speed, two different auto-guidance steering stabilization distances allowed for comparison of two different definitions of steady-state operation of the system. For the analysis, non-parametric cumulative distributions were generated to determine error values that corresponded to 95% of the cumulative distribution. Both auto-guidance systems provided 95% cumulative error estimates comparable to 51 mm (2 in.) claims and even smaller during Test A. Higher travel speeds (especially 5.0 m/s) significantly increased measured auto-guidance error, but no significant difference was observed between pass-to-pass and long-term error estimates. The vision sensor testing system could be used as a means to implement the auto-guidance test standard under development by the International Standard Organization (ISO). Third-party evaluation of auto-guidance performance will increase consumer awareness of the potential performance of products provided by a variety of vendors.