Is this autonomous tractor the future of farming?

Is this the future of farming?

It’s all-electric, autonomous and can help boost sustainability in agriculture.

It’s a smart tractor, developed by California-based firm, Monarch Tractor.

(SOUNDBITE) (English) PRAVEEN PENMETSA, CEO AND CO-FOUNDER OF MONARCH TRACTOR, SAYING:

“Monarch Tractor is the bridge between sustainability and very profitable farm economics, and farmers should not be in a position where they have to choose between one of those two. We believe that it is possible to have both, and our tractor allows farmers to have the best of both worlds.”

The Monarch Tractor is cleaner than existing machines.

It’s able to work for 10 hours on just a 4-5 hour charge, significantly reducing farm emissions as it goes.

It’s smart too.

Using eight on-board cameras and sensors to monitor a 360-degree view of its surroundings, the tractor is able to collect up to 240GB of data in a day.

That data is stored in the tractor’s cloud system and artificial intelligence does the rest, according to CEO and co-founder Praveen Penmetsa.

“Our A.I. platform takes all this data and then not only provides insights to the farmer, but also controls the tractor platform and the operation that the tractor is doing. So, for example, if the tractor is going down a row, we can remove the driver from this spraying operation. And while we are spraying, our A.I. can detect what the plant is doing, what the condition of the plant is, but also what the weather conditions are, and based on that, make real time adjustments on the spraying side to decrease the number of chemicals used and also to maximize the yield for the farmer."

Monarch Tractor has a starting price of $50,000.

The company says it’s currently targeting vineyards, fruit and nut orchards and even dairy and solar farms, but not larger agriculture products like corn, soy and cotton.

But does the technology threaten farmers' jobs?

The developers say their autonomous A.I. machines allow existing farm workers to focus on other jobs - such as improving the quality of produce rather than operating machinery.

Monarch Tractor is one of the latest companies trying to make farming greener and more profitable.

Japanese company Kubota and U.S. heavyweight equipment firm John Deere recently announced autonomous and sustainable tractors – but both are still just concepts.

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