Farming isn’t easy. It means long hours, taxing physical labor and harsh conditions. Some farmers don’t even have employees to help get everything done. Autonomous tractors could be a solution to many problems.
Today’s tractors have already got autosteer features. The autonomous tech that CNH is experimenting with will take that further. From the press release:
Based on the existing Case IH Magnum and New Holland T8 high-horsepower conventional tractors, and using GPS in conjunction with the most accurate satellite correction signals for ultra-precise guidance and immediate recording and transmission of field data, the CNH Industrial autonomous tractor concept has been designed to allow completely remote deployment, monitoring and control of the machines.
The Magnum is cabless and has no room for an operator. The T8 has a cab so a person can still drive it on the road and use it for jobs that autonomous tractors can’t yet do.
But when you switch them to autonomous mode, the machines can be monitored and controlled from a computer or a tablet interface. You can see live data and track location. To keep your tractors on your land and from meandering into your neighbor’s fields, you can set boundaries into the system. If you have a fleet a machines, they’ll stay out of each other’s way. The tractors can be programmed to cultivate, plant, spray or mow.
Hardware includes range-finding lasers and cameras. CNH says that the future the concepts will be able to use things like weather satellite information to maximize the best conditions, no matter what time of day. The tractors could be equipped to perform a bunch of different jobs, thus cutting down on the amount of machinery a farmer has to own. Endless possibilities, it sounds like.
On top of that, because the tractors are GPS equipped, they can also cut down on fuel usage in the long run. With the entire farm laid out as a map, it’s much easier not to overlap.
Autonomous tech is moving to streamline everyday tasks that would otherwise be extremely menial or labor intensive. Allowing farmers to be able to focus on more important tasks and having the tractors outside doing the heavy lifting seems like a good idea to me.
Plus, I can easily imagine these tractors as Autobots. That’s always a plus.