Development of a demand-adaptive user interface for farm machine operators

Farming is a changing occupation

The productivity of agrosystems largely depends on the availability of qualified, motivated farmers. Due to demographic change along with higher demands on the balance between work and private/family life, more and more people are leaving this field or not entering it in the first place. To attract new blood, this project examines the creation of an attractive working environment on the machine that helps farm workers do their job effectively and efficiently for maximum satisfaction.


An adaptive human-machine interface (HMI) for farm machines is being developed in the ONFIELD project, capable of detecting the current demand level of users, for example to offer possibilities for the handling of additional tasks during automated harvesting. Excessive demands on users are simultaneously avoided. 

The HMI helps farmers use their time on farm machines efficiently and to complete tasks that used to only be possible afterwards. The interface can serve as the starting point for managing or controlling certain farm systems. ONFIELD thereby makes a contribution to economic sustainability. The likelihood of overtime and associated impairment of the work-life balance is considerably reduced as a result.

An adaptive human-machine interface to optimise the subjective demand on users is the project objective. This optimisation expresses itself in economic and ecological benefits, for example the maximisation of performance with the simultaneous minimisation of errors along with the collection of information for preventive support in emergency situations. Increased output results from improving the performance of work processes and boosting the personal well-being of the user.

Example of an AR environment in the cab of the future

Augmented reality and sensor systems for farm machines of the future

Measuring methods that allow the demand state of users to be reliably identified without negatively affecting their work will be examined and developed within the scope of ONFIELD. Tasks external to the machine will be offered to the users for completion as a result. In order to meet the requirements of an intuitive and user-friendly HMI, the driver’s cab as a workplace has to be equipped with appealing interaction possibilities. Here the use of augmented reality (AR) is considered particularly promising, allowing elements to be projected into the environment without overloading a cab with control elements.

Thus the HMI ensures the consistent and therefore optimal capacity utilisation of machine operators. Improving the satisfaction of users also correlates with the attractiveness of the workplace, which is essential for a socially sustainable workplace design in the Agricultural Systems of the Future.

Application scenarios and target groups are being defined at the start of the project in order to comprehensively assess the potential of the adaptive HMI. The recording of the current state and interaction possibilities will be selectively planned, developed and implemented based on the findings. Another work package links the user’s capacity utilisation profile to a possible requirements profile for the secondary tasks, enabling individual assistance. On the way to the functioning ONFIELD, a demonstrator is first being created that will be regularly used for investigations in the course of the project. The project will be concluded with the integration of a functional model on a combine harvester.

Prof. Dr.-Ing. Marcus Geimer

Karlsruhe Institute of Technology

Kaiserstraße 12
76131 Karlsruhe

Tel.: +49 721 608-48601
E-Mail: mobima@fast.kit.edu

Project partners
Institute of Vehicle System Technology (FAST)
Institute for Human and Industrial Engineering (IFAB)
Institute of Agricultural Engineering (University of Hohenheim)
CLAAS Selbstfahrende Erntemaschinen GmbH
Budde Industrie Design GmbH
INMACH Intelligente Maschinen GmbH