Latest Controller From Danfoss Integrates an Autonomous Control Library for Increased Precision and Level 3 Autonomy

November 05, 2021 by Seth Price

Danfoss has recently released the Plus+1 XM100 Controller, the first of a new line of controllers specifically designed for rugged, off-road use.

Danfoss has manufactured and provided engineering solutions and tools for over 85 years. Their catalog covers everything from controllers for automation systems, vehicles to temperature and flow regulators, to refrigeration systems. 


Danfoss’ PLUS+1 XM100 Controller. Image used courtesy of Danfoss

This controller, and others in its upcoming line, are designed for building automation, construction, and agricultural industries so they can operate with Level 3 Autonomy, assisting a human driver during off-road or crop-tending tasks.


The PLUS+1 XM100 Controller

This latest controller aims to improve safety and quality in off-road machinery. It is designed to impact the building and agricultural industries, where equipment must follow precise lines. This can happen, for example, when the future road location or navigating between rows of crops, crushing the fewest.

Unlike autonomous vehicles on a paved city street, autonomy in industrial environments can be quite challenging. 

For example, a pesticide sprayer will drive through a cornfield and crush some of the crops; it’s in the nature of the beast. Training a computer to pick out a path where some crops are crushed, but as few as possible, is a significantly different challenge than having an autonomous vehicle that must crush no pedestrians.

The Danfoss controller arrives pre-programmed with an extensive control library and features a powerful iMX-6 processor, graph neural networks (GNNs) processing capabilities, and a 6-axis measurement system. 


The CAN-based PLUS+1® microcontrollers. Image used courtesy of Danfoss

“This is the first time we’ve put a computer on a vehicle, which made a significant difference in the machine’s computing and processing power. This allows us to put much more complex software into the vehicle,” mentioned Peter Bleday, head of autonomous vehicles at Danfoss.

The system works with many plug-and-play devices, including light detection and ranging (LiDAR) modulus for machine vision.


What is Level 3 Autonomy?

SAE International (formerly known as the Society of Automotive Engineers) defines Level 3 Autonomy as conditional driving automation. This means the automation system does not replace the driver but instead assists the driver in their tasks. 

In Level 3 Autonomy, the driver still controls the steering, braking, and acceleration, but only when the system allows it. Certain conditions must be met before the driver can take certain actions. These conditions can be programmed to improve safety, such as using LiDAR to ensure nobody is near moving parts before the Power Take-Off (PTO) is engaged or before chemicals are dispersed.

Danfoss is hopeful that this new controller will help engineers in various sectors of industrial automation.

Do you use controllers like these in your daily operations?