When it comes to targets for autonomous machinery, those carrying out repetitive tasks on farmland are ripe for the picking. The newly introduced self-operating Monarch Tractor is designed to show how it’s done, being billed as the world’s smartest tractor, it also ditches diesel and uses an all-electric powertrain for zero tailpipe emissions.
Over the past decade or so, we’ve seen autonomous driving technologies start to filter into the agriculture scene. This includes baby steps such as the self-steering robotic tractor we looked at way back in 2011 and, at the other end of the spectrum, audacious electric tractors that do away with the driver cabin entirely.
The Monarch Tractor still has space aboard for a driver, but carries the technology needed to either assist the driver or simply operate on its own. With 360-degree cameras, a suite of sensors and autonomous navigation software, the Monarch Tractor can be be made to carry out pre-programmed tasks without a person onboard. Otherwise, operators can control the tractor through gestures from the ground, or have it follow them as they carry out tasks through “Shadow” mode.
Using deep learning software, the Monarch Tractor is also designed to learn as it goes. This means it can use its sensors and imaging equipment to gather and analyze as much as 240 GB of data every day to assist with things like crop yield estimates and long-term analysis of crop health, becoming more accurate the longer it runs.
On the specification side of things, the Monarch Tractor is powered by a 70-hp electric powertrain that offers over 10 hours of operation time, and takes four to five hours to recharge via a 220-V outlet. It also has built-in obstacle avoidance and roll prevention to prevent accidents in the field. It comes with a 3-point hitch and boasts a lifting capacity of 2,200 lb (998 kg), with 4-wheel drive available as an option.
“As a fourth-generation farmer, I’ve seen firsthand the hazards that farming presents not just to workers, but to the environment as well,” says Carlo Mondavi, chief farming officer, Monarch Tractor. “Monarch Tractor is moving farming toward a safer and sustainable future by eliminating harmful emissions, reducing the need for herbicides and keeping workers out of harm’s way with its driver-optional capabilities.”
The company has opened up reservations for the Monarch Tractor for a deposit of US$500, and says hundreds of farmers have already signed on to receive one when shipping kicks off in the Fall (US) of 2021. The starting price is $50,000.
The video below provides a look at the tractor in action.
Monarch I Launch Video 2020
Source: Monarch Tractor