Customer Success Story
Investments in premium technology, enhanced digital capabilities and sustainable agricultural solutions
AGCO is a global leader in the design, manufacture and distribution of agricultural machinery and precision ag technology, from tractors to combine harvesters and innovative smart farming solutions. Despite the challenges from the pandemic, AGCO has continued to increase their investments in premium technology, enhanced digital capabilities and sustainable agricultural solutions. AGCO’s Fendt brand is regarded as an innovation leader for agricultural machinery and has won several innovation awards in the industry.
Safe, robust and reliable software components—ready for global deployment
Christian Kelber, Director, Engineering, AGCO GmbH
“Apex.AI provides Apex.OS, a foundational software framework and development kit for rapidly developing advanced autonomous capabilities. It helps AGCO shorten R&D timelines to deliver smart agricultural solutions for the future of highly automated farming. Coming from the automotive industry, Apex.AI provides safe, robust and reliable software components, enabling us to develop autonomous driving technology that can be deployed across our range of products globally.”
Software defined capabilities for smart machines
Fendt Xaver, a cloud-controlled autonomous robot for seeding
Xaver, an award-winning autonomous robot concept developed by Fendt as part of a strategic research project, can plant seeds on your farm at any time of day or night, with precision down to the centimeter. It is electric, zero-emission, lightweight and uses 90% less energy than conventional machines. A cloud-connected fleet of Xavers is controlled through a tablet app. Real-time data from each machine is available, including its location, status and diagnostics.
Developing these types of machines requires modern software architecture and agile development processes. Apex.AI enables AGCO to develop a software stack based on automotive industry standards that performs real-time autonomous functions using their existing or future computer hardware, Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS), and sensors like cameras, radar and lidar.
Facilitating the transition
from research lab to reality
Tobias Nothdurft, Team Lead Research & Advanced Engineering at AGCO GmbH
“Apex.AI’s modular stack enables us to transition from a prototype stack to a production stack in a seamless way. We can benefit from using their framework to easily integrate already developed autonomy functions. The stack we develop can run on a wide range of hardware platforms, allowing us to integrate smart technology developed here across the wide array of AGCO product lines.”
Safety is baked in
In 2021, Apex.OS achieved ISO 26262 ASIL-D, which the highest level of automotive software safety possible. This is the first time that a significant, complex, modern C++ product was able to meet the stringent requirements of determinism and real-time behavior needed for a safety-critical use case. Apex.AI is helping customers build systems to reach similar safety goals required in their industrial machines, automobiles, and highly automated agriculture machines (e.g. ISO 25119 and ISO 18497). Apex.OS supports development best practices, such as separation of concerns and advanced tools for managing memory allocation safely.
Agricultural, industrial, mining and construction machines have similar functional and safety needs as automobiles, which makes Apex.OS an ideal choice for developing complex safety-critical functionality that can be deployed in areas with human interaction. It opens the door for advances in AI from autonomous driving R&D to be deployed in a range of such areas.
Expertise that is useful,
accessible, and practical
Benjamin Fernandez, Project Engineer Robotics, AGCO GmbH
“Designing and proving a safe autonomous system such as Xaver can be a complex and time-consuming task. For example, deterministic behavior needs to be designed into every component of the software stack and validated. A control system with low-latency interactions between trajectory updates and collision checking can lead to a lot of engineering time spent on synchronization of messages between multiple publishers and subscribers in a deterministic way. Apex.AI’s deep resources, including examples and articles, helped to select the right time policies and save valuable design time. The wealth of experience I can leverage from Apex.AI’s experts in the automotive industry is a very valuable part of using Apex.OS as the development framework. Kudos to the Apex.AI team for making the expertise accessible and useful in a practical way.”
Apex.AI crushes complexity
Apex.AI is helping its automotive and industrial customers squash the exploding complexity of software-defined vehicles and machines. According to a recent industry report from Deloitte:
“The cost of integration, testing, verifying and validating functions to meet [quality and safety] requirements can easily amount to 40%, or more, of overall development budgets.”
Building complex software using Apex.OS allows the software architecture to be modular, scalable and compliant to the requirements of safety-critical deployments. Furthermore, functional and performance testing and validation methodologies and tools developed for modern C++ based systems at Apex.AI are available to Apex.AI customers who want to reach production quality in their R&D projects, even before pre-production engineering begins.
Integrating autonomous driving components with familiar open-source tools
Michael Aeberhard, Application Engineering Lead, Apex.AI
“We were able to help the AGCO team integrate several state-of-the-art autonomous driving components in this project in a tight timeframe, including lidar object detection, collision checking, planning, vehicle control and joystick for remote control. This was made possible by the state-of-the-art framework and developer tools that come with Apex.OS. Virtually no engineering time was spent on training, since Apex.OS is compatible with familiar open-source tools such as the Gazebo simulator. We are focused on developer productivity from the day a customer gets started on a project with Apex.OS. We look forward to working with AGCO to develop more smart solutions using Apex.OS-based autonomous capabilities in the near future.”
Frederik Beaujean, Application Engineering, Apex.AI
“Through our collaboration with AGCO, we can show how flexibly the Apex.AI software can be used. Apex.OS works on the road, in the air and in the agricultural domain. Our software is safety certified, real-time, hardware agnostic, and simplifies the use of complex middleware interfaces. But what makes it especially valuable for working with our partners is how easy it is to get started and to tailor to our customers' requirements.”