How are Steward™ Autonomy Kits Made?

How are Steward™ Autonomy Kits Made?

Sabanto’s autonomy system, Steward™, can be installed on most any tractor platform. To date, our kit has been installed on a variety of models from John Deere, Fendt and Kubota, and we’re still expanding. The process of how the kits are made is pretty straightforward, but first, we’d like to show you what exactly comes in a kit.


What’s in a kit?

Platform kits are a combination of our Path Finding Module (vPFM), autonomy switch box, obstacle detection sensors, cellular antennas, GNSS unit and its antennas, plus a variety of sensors and actuators that bolt onto an existing tractor using our custom built mounting brackets, and our very own wiring harness that connects all of those components together.


So, who makes all that stuff?

Jake is proofing prints for a new bracket design.

Sabanto is all about home-grown technology. Our teams in Ames and Nevada, Iowa, design and build the prototype brackets and wiring harnesses that eventually are made by local manufacturers for our production units.

To accelerate that process we use 3D CAD modeling and rapid prototyping tools to create the initial build, which then gets test fit on a tractor. Our computer controlled plasma torch (shown above) cuts down prototyping from hours to minutes.

Likewise, we design and build a prototype wiring harness for the platform. Nobody does it better than Evan, especially with the right energy drink!


Never Satisfied 

Preston is shown here welding prototype pieces that he first cut out with our plasma torch.

Lest you think that we’re just using a cookie cutter design process, we use each new platform as an opportunity to innovate. For example, our engineers have come up with a new method of actuating brakes on our utility class platforms (the ones that typically pull sod mowers), which will improve their dependability and performance while better integrating with the tractor.


Where Steward does its Best Thinking

Our vPFM (Steward’s brain), shown above, was wholly designed by Sabanto engineers, as well as the code that runs on it. In fact, we’ve created our own operating system vOS (vehicle Operating System) that processes the path plan that you create via our proprietary vehicle Mission Control (vMC) software. That same vPFM works on any platform that we support.

When you’re ready for Steward to go to work, vMC sends down your path plan to Steward’s vPFM which then controls and monitors your tractor while it autonomously follows that path in your fields. We’ll learn more about the software teams that created and continuously improve that magic in a future issue.


Testing, Testing, 1,2,3…

Once we’ve finalized a design for all of the components, we assemble the entire kit onto a tractor and begin configuring it to work with our vOS software. That’s where Machine Compatibility and Systems Engineers like Cody and Evan (pictured below) come into play.

Uh, watch out for lightning guys!! 🌩️


The next phase is durability and performance testing which is done right on our own test field in Nevada, Iowa, and also in conjunction with our dealer partners.

Vlad, Testing Engineer, and Chris, Product Manager, discussing the next testing scenario.

Vlad, Testing Engineer, and Chris, Product Manager, discussing the next testing scenario.


We also do extensive testing of wiring harnesses, as Austin is doing here in our Ames office, using our Sabanto built test rig.


Get Ready to Ship 🚢


Once a new platform kit is tested and passes validation, we send out plans and specifications to our network of vendors. Drew, our Supply Chain Specialist, manages those orders and starts to fill his inventory shelves with the components that will be packaged into a kit that is sent to your local dealer and installed on your tractor.

As you might imagine, it takes quite a team to design, build and deliver a new Steward autonomy kit in just a few months. I can assure you it’s a labor of love that we’re all very proud of!


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