This is a topic lining out a specific idea that we (two farmers, farm advisor, tutor) are hoping to work on in the near future together with thesis students. I find it so promising that I want to share it with you, the AOG community. Free to build on and share ideas!
The context is that we are organic farmers who use a hoe in the front of the tractor. An example of this one-man operation: https://twitter.com/kadacode/status/1128024872263794688
The hoe blade tips leave 8 or so centimeters of open space for the crop row to pass, so imagine the concentration needed as a driver. We have RTK auto steer systems but unfortunately we can't use them with this operation because of build-up of small errors in the tractor-planter linkage, draft and so on, risking crop damage.
State-of-the-art solves this by attaching the hoe in the back together with a camera which can see the effective crop rows and compensates deviation from the crop line with a sideshift or steering disks. Example: https://twitter.com/search?q=rtk%20disc&src=typd
But we don't want that... We want to keep the hoe in front where we see it and attach something useful in the back. The initial idea of my colleague farmer is that we take this exact camera and attach it on the hoe in the front, and that deviation of the crop line is compensated by using the autosteer which is already on our tractor! So instead of RTK-GPS being the position source, it is a front camera, seeing the real crop. Sounds simple, but the companies that we contacted and are involved in the state-of-the-art are not really up for it. It seems they either have the know-how of camera row guidance or that of tractor autosteer, but never both. So we are at a point where we want to experiment ourselves.
AgOpenGPS, if I am not mistaking, essentially takes a position, a heading and a steering angle et voilą, you have your tractor driving along a line. Now here is the manual of a stereo-vision camera system produced by IFM and proposed to us by a technology tutor: https://www.ifm.com/mounting/706424UK.pdf
On pages 129-135 you can find the line guidance feature. The software can spit out almost continuously the offset of position to the crop line and the line angle to the driving direction. So the position and heading of the vehicle are known and theoretically, this information stream could be used in AgOpenGPS to autosteer the tractor along the effective crop rows.
This specific stereo vision camera costs around 1500 EUR and it is primarily built for following swaths and crop edges, so yet to be confirmed it works with small crop rows. Similar state of the art camera systems by for ex. Claas sell for 10x that price and are proven to work with the kind of operation we have in mind. We are now hoping for thesis students to apply for proposals we made on this very idea of integrating camera crop guidance with (open source) autosteer systems. Both technical and more theoretical (software, code).
A lot of questions remain, yet I think it would sooo work. I wish I had a better understanding of coding so we could get such a camera somewhere and start to experiment...