Volvo Penta answers the Karl for Kuhn’s autonomous solution
06 December 2023
Kuhn Group OEMs pick Volvo Penta engines
Volvo Penta said its D5 engine helped the Kuhn Group enter a new era of ultra-efficient, autonomous solutions for farmers – while expanding their partnership even further.
Kuhn’s Karl autonomous multifunctional field tool was shown at Agritechnica 2023, held in November in Hanover, Germany. Behind the prototype machine’s software and electronics, is a more familiar piece of engineering – the Volvo Penta D5 in-line four-cylinder diesel engine.
Since 2016, Volvo Penta has been the main engine partner of Artec, a French self-propelled sprayer manufacturer Kuhn acquired in 2018. The fuel-efficient D8 and D5 units proved themselves on Artec’s F40 EVO and RS20 designs, respectively. The company said it was therefore the obvious choice when engineers from the OEM, and its Kuhn Group parent, decided to scale up the original Karl prototype, with proven Volvo Penta technology and its flexible platform.
“As an engine partner, rather than just an engine supplier, we provided input to this project at an early stage, around two years ago,” said Benjamin Deysieux, Business Engineer, Volvo Penta. “The fact that the D5 was already used with great success on Artec’s self-propelled sprayers helped drive the decision, but another major reason was that its 5.13 liters from four big cylinders make numerous power nodes available, all the way up to 238 hp. Today it offers 172 hp, with lots of power and torque at low rpm. But, as this prototype may eventually gain some weight, we have plenty of latitude to provide even more power from the same installation and footprint.”
Volvo Penta’s experience with Artec’s production machines proved invaluable in developing Karl’s layout. Located at the front of the robot, where it receives maximum airflow, the cooling system was optimized to ensure the most reliable performance in dusty applications, such as when working on dry soil.
With no need to cater to an operator, the D5 engine sits at the very heart of the 5.8-tonne Karl. Situated in a low, central position, rather than upfront as with ordinary tractor designs, it provides important benefits in terms of the center of gravity and weight distribution.
Soil compaction is further reduced by the absence of an operator and the use of electrically driven skid-steer-style tracks Electric drivelines are not the usual arrangement in agricultural vehicles but allow for much easier autonomous tool control.
“Our D5 is coupled with a variable-speed generator that powers an electric traction driveline,” said Benjamin. “Once we’d ensured the engine could handle the stress of driving the rotor, this diesel-electric installation couples the reliability of a Volvo Penta engine with simple, flexible and super-high-efficiency power distribution. No doubt this system will become increasingly common on medium-sized machines in the future – just one more reason why this project represents the agriculture of tomorrow.”
“We use Volvo Penta’s D5 and D8 engines for our self-propelled sprayers and have had a good experience,” said Thierry Leroueil, Director at Artec. “Our customers are extremely demanding, but it soon became clear that the engine platform fully meets their expectations. I’m pleased to see we have established an effective partnership that can benefit different parts of the Kuhn Group as illustrated with the Karl solution.”
“Agricultural machinery is changing, as robotized solutions become the future of farming, and we accept the challenges,” concludes Anders Konradsson, Vice President Global Industrial Sales at Volvo Penta. “Kuhn is rightly engaged in these discussions with its customers, and we are proud to support its transformation through the Karl prototype presented at Agritechnica.”
In addition to the KarlL robot and Artec sprayers, Kuhn Audureau’s SPW Intense self-propelled feed mixer manufactured in France has also been recently given a Volvo Penta’s D8 Stage 5 engine
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