What has been dubbed the "world's smartest, fully electric autonomous tractor" has been unveiled this month by Monarch Tractor.
This new machine apparently combines electrification, automation, machine learning, and data analysis "to enhance farmer’s existing operations, increase labour productivity and safety, and maximize yields to cut overhead costs and emissions", the US firm says.
The company claims to have secured several hundred working farms as preliminary customers.
The Monarch Tractor is 100% electric and has zero tailpipe emissions. It also has the capabilities to perform as a "powerful generator in the field". Operation time of 10 hours and over is offered, with a 10-year warranty on the battery. Charge time of four to five hours is required at 220V.
It is capable of working with or without a driver, the firm says, providing driver-assist and "driver-optional" operations.
"The tractor can perform pre-programmed tasks without a driver; or an operator can use Monarch’s interactive automation features including Gesture and Shadow modes to have the tractor follow a worker on the job," the company asserts.
On the safety front, the Monarch some of the features built in include roll and collision prevention, vision-based PTO safety and 360° cameras.
Via a smartphone or personal device, users receive tractor alerts, updates on current micro-weather conditions, operations reports, data collection, analysis, and storage.
In terms of horsepower, the tractor’s electric drivetrain offers 40hp (30KW) of continuous power and short duration peak power up to 70hp (55KW).
Interestingly, the machine has what its manufacturer calls a "Deep Learning and Sensing Suite". This means the tractor collects and analyses over 240GB of crop data every day it operates in the field.
It can work with farmers’ current implements as well as the next generation of smart implements.
Sensors and imaging are processed to provide critical data points that can be used for real-time implement adjustments as well as long-term yield estimates, current growth stages and other plant/crop health metrics.
"Utilising machine learning, Monarch Tractor is able to digest this data and provide long-term analysis of field health, improving accuracy the longer it runs," the company claims.
Additionally, the data collected is securely stored in a Monarch cloud.
The company received “2020 Tractor of the Year” in the AgTech Breakthrough Awards, was named one of World Ag Expo’s “Top 10 Best New Products,” and recognized in Fast Company’s “Best World-Changing Ideas: North America, Energy and Food.”
The firm says Monarch Tractor has a starting price of $50,000 (€41,175) and can be reserved with a $500 (€412) deposit. Shipping will commence in autumn 2021, Monarch says.