An Autonomous Vehicle for the Agriculture of the Future

Researchers from the University of Bremen and Osnabrück University of Applied Sciences are working with Lower Saxony-based agricultural machinery manufacturer NEXAT GmbH on the autonomization of an electrically powered, multifunctional vehicle for the agriculture of the future.

The machine is intended for worldwide use and accordingly has impressive dimensions for large areas: it moves with a width of 6 to 24 meters. Narrow tracked undercarriages that repeatedly travel along the same tracks minimize the amount of arable land covered. Compared with conventional cultivation methods, it is planned that this will reduce soil damage caused by soil compaction as much as possible. Different modules for soil cultivation, sowing, crop protection, and harvesting can be mounted on the basic vehicle as required.

University of Bremen Developing "Brain" of the Vehicle

In order for the vehicle to be able to autonomously perform agricultural tasks in the field, the Optimization and Optimal Control research group of the Center for Industrial Mathematics (ZeTeM) at the University of Bremen is developing the so-called brain. "The vehicle not only has to move autonomously - this movement also has to be fully coordinated with the field operations it is performing," explains Professor Christof Büskens from ZeTeM. "The fact that the vehicle has four independently steerable caterpillar drives and must move in a field without road markings, as can be used with cars, makes autonomization very complex."

Osnabrück University of Applied Sciences Conducts Research on Machine's "Organs"

As a project partner of the University of Bremen, the Agricultural Engineering - Process and Process Chains “Landtechnik – Verfahrens- und Prozessketten” research group from Osnabrück University of Applied Sciences, headed by Professor Hubert Korte, is conducting research on the so-called "organs" of the machine. This involves the mechanical and process engineering knowledge for designing the vehicle. After all, for efficient field cultivation, it is crucial to harmonize both mechanical engineering parameters and process engineering aspects and to consider the machine not as a single object, but rather the entire crop cultivation process.

The NEXAT company is committed exclusively to the development, manufacturing, and sale of the new crop production process. The young company draws on the more than 50 years of development and consulting expertise of Kalverkamp Innovation GmbH, from which it was founded in 2017.

Agriculture under Massive Pressure

The main motivation for the project is climate change. As one of the biggest CO2 emitters, agriculture is under pressure. In the long term, it must ensure food security for the growing world population, stop the massive destruction of arable land through soil compaction, monocultures, and erosion, halt the high energy-consumption and CO2 emissions of conventional agricultural machinery, and future-proof the economic viability of agriculture in the long term.


Further Information:



Maria Höffmann
Center for Industrial Mathematics
University of Bremen
Phone: +49 421 218-64354
Email: mhffmannprotect me ?!uni-bremenprotect me ?!.de

Prof. Dr. Hubert Korte
Faculty of Agricultural Sciences and Landscape Architecture
Osnabrück University of Applied Sciences
Phone: +49 541 969-5174
Email: h.a.korteprotect me ?!hs-osnabrueckprotect me ?!.de

Lothar Fliß
Phone: +49 5493 54844-11
Email: l.flissprotect me ?!nexatprotect me ?!.de

An agricultural machine in action on a field. In the background you can see forest and blue sky.
The NEXAT vehicle in a field harvesting soybeans. Researchers from the University of Bremen and Osnabrück University of Applied Sciences are working on autonomization with NEXAT GmbH, a manufacturer of agricultural technology in Lower Saxony.