Within the next few years, farming is expected to be revolutionized by using driverless tractors. These self-driving tractors are set to bring about a groundbreaking shift in the current agriculture scene.
The idea of a driverless tractor surfaced for the first time around the year 1940 when Frank W. Andrew invented his own tractor. In the 1950s, Ford also developed a driverless tractor but they could not produce it and sell it commercially as there were difficulties in operating it. The technology for these self-driving tractors has been evolving since all these years with different approaches like full autonomy and supervised autonomy.
Current Leading Manufacturers
There are many manufacturers in different nations that have been trying to come up with their own prototype of a driverless tractor using different technologies. Currently, there are four manufacturers of this product and they are John Deere, Fendt, Case IH, and Autonomous Tractor Corporation (ATC).
Mahindra & Mahindra Ltd. has developed its first ever driverless tractor at the Mahindra Research Valley in Chennai. This agricultural innovation aims to increase the food production to feed the growing needs of the world by redefining the mechanization process for the global farmer.
At the launch of the driverless tractor, Rajesh Jejurikar, President, Farm Equipment Sector, Mahindra & Mahindra, said: “Today the need for farm mechanization is higher than ever before, due to labor shortage and the need to improve productivity and farm produce yield. Coupled with our ‘DiGiSENSE’ technology that we launched last year, the driverless tractor offers a distinct advantage to the Indian farmer by bringing an unprecedented level of intelligence to the tractor.”
Features of the Driverless Tractor
- Autosteer: This GPS based technology enables a tractor to travel along a straight line.
- Auto-implement lift: This feature makes the tractor lift the work tools from the ground at the end of a row and lower it after the tractor is ready for the operation at the next row.
- Skip Passing: This feature helps the tractor to manoeuvre to the next row for continuous operation without any involvement of the driver.
- Auto-headland turn: This feature helps the tractor to orient itself along adjacent rows for continuous operation without any steering input from the farmer.
Apart from these unique features the driverless tractor also has safety features like Geofence lock, control via tablet user interface, and remote engine start stop.
Another jewel in the crowd of inventions
Not just the big companies, the spirit to modernize agriculture is also shared by a young lad from Rajasthan named Yogesh Nagar, who recently invented a remote to control his tractor. The source of inspiration behind his invention was his ailing father whose health deteriorated because of spending long hours on it. Yogesh spent Rs. 47,000/- on buying the tools and equipment needed to develop this remote. The range of the remote is about one and a half kilometers. This wasn’t Yogesh’s first invention, there have been 27 more pieces of research that this 19-year-old boy has done.
This is truly the next stage of farming – taking the driver out of the seat. Driverless tractors are all set to make farming more lucrative as well as reduce health hazard for farmers.