No internet, no problem, says DOT developer

Special Report: Will farming make a u-turn?

DOT moves across a yard to attach itself to an implement.
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If you don’t have good internet, would the DOT platform work on your farm?

No problem, said Owen Kinch, field research manager with SeedMaster, the developer of the driverless machine.

A high-power, high-range Wi-Fi network comes as part of the DOT package, with SeedMaster essentially acting as the internet service provider, he said.

“The user app will be hosted on a web server through which the farmer will access DOT.”

So how far away can you be from the autonomous unit and still operate it?

That depends on what the producer is willing to spend on wireless equipment, said Kinch.

“We’ve proven we can communicate with DOT up to 15 kilometres through our local area network, but the price is higher for that capability. We’ve also proven we can communicate up to a mile and a half away with components that are very inexpensive — like a couple of hundred bucks kind of thing — with good success.

“Every farm is different in how it’s set up, how fields are set up in relation to farmyards, what kind of activities farmers want to do while using DOT, etc. Most likely there will be a range of options that will be tailored to meet the farmer’s needs.”

The tablet that allows users to remotely control DOT will be a Windows-based system because “it’s very easy to work within its structure,” he said.

“So we’re not sitting and waiting, for example, for Apple to approve updates to our app. We will seamlessly push out updates whenever we want or need to.”

Although some software updates will require user initiation, most will download automatically whenever the tablet is in reach of the Wi-Fi network, said Kinch.

“It will happen without any involvement from the farmer, which is a good thing because no one likes the headaches and time it takes to download software updates.”

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