Wednesday, January 5, 2022

John Deere's “fully autonomous tractor" requires a "a call center of third-party contractors"

The Verge:
Agricultural equipment maker John Deere has announced its latest piece of autonomous farming kit: a package of hardware and software that combines machine learning with the company’s GPS-powered auto-steer features to create a “fully autonomous tractor.”


“We’re not going from no tech all the way up to an autonomous machine,” says [a John Deere vice president]. 


Although John Deere is presenting this as an autonomous system, it’s worth noting that there are humans in the loop, and not just farmers. When the company’s algorithms spot something unexpected, images from the cameras will be sent to “tele-operators” — essentially a call center of third-party contractors