Automated Driving at the sugar cane harvest in Brazil

Sugar is an important component of many foods around the world. In Brazil, sugar cane is also used in large part to produce ethanol – and thus also for fuel. The sugar cane harvest is therefore a big deal in Brazil – and means a lot of work for the agricultural industry. To make the harvest more efficient, automated Mercedes-Benz Axor trucks are now being used on the sugar cane fields near São Paulo.

As they're being loaded, the trucks drive in automated mode very closely next to the harvesters. Their average speed is about six kilometers per hour. Although the driver remains seated in the vehicle and is always in full control, he does not need to keep his hands on the steering wheel all the time, because the Axor handles the driving. As soon as the truck is loaded, the driver takes the wheel again and transports the sweet cargo to another truck. Two of these automated Axor trucks are already in customer operations at Agro Cana Caiana. All in all, 18 vehicles will be delivered to Brazilian customers.

How does automated driving work?

We equipped the Mercedes-Benz Axor – our tried and proven truck for the Brazilian market – with the technological components required for Level 2 automated driving. This means cruise and proximity control as well as diagonal and lateral control are handled by the truck autonomously. In addition to the functions for automated driving, the Axor is equipped with antennas integrated into the roof of the truck, which receive satellite signals. The route is defined and the computer is programmed before the truck gets started on the plantation. The Axor keeps to this route with a tolerance of one centimeter. The Axor is controlled for the automated drive via cruise control, GPS and georeferencing.

What advantages does automated driving offer?

Automated trucks offer a number of advantages: Firstly, the automated truck relieves the driver of the exhausting task of controlling the speed and distance himself. Secondly, an automated Axor saves up to 50 percent fuel, the consumption of lubricants drops by 40 percent and the maintenance costs are cut by 30 percent. Thirdly, the automated Axor is able to harvest twice the amount of sugar cane than conventional agricultural machines, because it damages virtually no sugar canes due to the predefined route. This ultimately increases the efficiency and lowers the costs.

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