John Deere Self-Driving Tractor; Apple’s AR/VR Headset; Ford to Build 150,000 F-150 Lightenings; Google Plays Catch-Up With Apple on Ecosystem

So much attention has been on self-driving cars, delivery vans, and even semi-trucks the last few years…and not much to the AG community. Now, according to techcrunch.com, John Deere has announced at CES that they will be making their 8R self-driving tractor available for purchase by this Fall. Some farmers have been testing the rig out since 2019, and Deere apparently thinks its ready for prime time. The system sports six pairs of stereo cameras, powered by a pair of Nvidia Jetson modules, offering a full view of its surrounding. Its GPS guidance system, coupled with geofencing, keep the system on track for initial tasks, such as tilling. That’s controlled remotely by the John Deere Operations Center Mobile, which offers access to images, live video and data from the job. One presumes it will have a fairly eye-watering price, but think about it…your Deere could be tilling a field while you are elsewhere on your spread tending to livestock…or maybe going into town for supplies!

An interesting wrinkle has emerged in the upcoming Apple AR/VR headset. Macrumors.com cites a report form display analyst Ross Young that says the new Apple headset will feature 3 displays. Two will be Micro OLED displays from Sony…which will be the main displays, and there will also be a third display….an AMOLED panel. The analyst hasn’t cracked the code on what the third display will do, but speculation is that it will apply to peripheral vision. This is because AMOLED displays have too low a pixel density for headsets…but would be fine for reduced resolution peripheral vision. Based on a Sony panel showed recently, Apple (if they use those ones) will have a 4000×4000 pixel display for each eye…and those little screens will be 1.4 inches diagonally. All this tech plus the computing power, battery tech, and the rest…you can assume the Apple headset will come in at about $3000 when it rolls out later this year. 

After announcing before Christmas that they were going to build far more Mustang Mach-e EVs to keep up with demand, now Ford has said they will build 150,000 F-150 Lightening EV pickups a year…also due to demand. Arstechnica.com says Ford already has 200,000 reservations in their order books for the new EV pickup. The entry level F-150 Lightening…which is aimed at the commercial market, will start at $39,974. A better equipped model will sticker for $52,974. Ford says that 3/4 of the orders come from conquest customers…people buying a Ford truck for the first time. 

Google has announced some 13 new software features at CES, mainly aimed at bulking up their ecosystem to try to retain users like Apple does. According to theverge.com, one includes a quick switching ability like Apple’s AirPods have, and another will allow mirroring of your texts from your Android device to your ChromeBook. Google will also allow Wear OS3 watches to unlock your paired Android phone or ChromeBook…again, like Apple Watch can do with iPhones and MacBooks. HP, Acer, and Intel are partnering with Google to support some of its Better Together features on their laptops. Users will be able to use Fast Pair, sync text messages, and use Android’s Nearby Share feature to share files to their upcoming Windows PCs. The updates will roll out anywhere from ‘within weeks’ to ‘later this year.’ 



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