It was back in March that Krone and Lemken announced to the world that they had been working together on what amounts to a new tractor, known as Combined Powers.

The difference between their unit and the products from other manufacturers is that it is designed and built from the ground up to be an autonomous tractor.

A misty future for Combined Powers

At the time, there was no mention of when we might see it for sale, and the timetable is still not decided.

However, the joint Combined Powers venture took another step forward recently with the official launch of the machines which centred on a field demonstration.

The unit first operated a 4m Krone EasyCut F 400 fold front mower. After completing the mowing, the unit was then changed over for tedding using the Vendro 820.

The second unit on display demonstrated the cultivating abilities using Lemken equipment which included an eight-row Azurit 10 precision drill and an adapted Karat 10 cultivator.

Large scale tractors

These Combined Powers tractors are hefty machines, purpose built by manufacturers with expertise in the area of agricultural engineering rather than the small-scale field robots favoured by many start-up companies.

Combined powers mowing krone
To give some idea of scale, the unit is powering a 4m mower

They weigh 7.5t and 8t, depending on the implement attached, and are fitted with 23in wheels all-round. The engine pumps out 230hp which goes to drive an alternator providing power to the four wheels and power take-off (PTO).

Being a clean sheet design, the engineers have taken the opportunity to revisit one of the basic principles of tractor design, the question of how it is to be controlled.

Core principle

The standard format is for an operator to act as the link between how the implement is performing and the tractor controls.

With no operator present, the implement can directly supervise the tractor and this is the approach that has been taken with this set up.

It is the natural progression of TIM (Tractor Implement Management) which has not been as widely pursued by manufacturers as might have been thought.

Krone and Lemken have created an autonomous tractor that does not just set out to replace the driver, but operates as single unit with the implement with no human interposed between the two.