Monarch launches world’s first fully autonomous electric tractor


A United States tech company has launched the world’s first fully electric smart tractor that doesn’t necessarily require a driver to operate it, Chris McCullough reports.

Monarch Tractor says its latest development addresses the issues of labour shortages, sustainability and environmental concerns in one single vehicle.

The new tractor is capable of providing 40HP (30KW) of continuous power and short duration peak power up to 70HP (55KW) and costs US$50,000.

Best of all worlds

With several hundred new customers for the tractor already in the order book, the company says it has combined electrification, automation, machine learning, and data analysis to enhance farmer’s existing operations, increase labour productivity and safety, and maximise yields to cut overhead costs and emissions.

Praveen Penmetsa, Monarch tractor co-founder and CEO, said: “Monarch Tractor is ushering in the digital transformation of farming with unprecedented intelligence, technology and safety features.

“We have assembled a world-class team of farmers, engineers, and scientists to meet today’s farming demands and are empowering farmers by giving them intelligent tools to collect more predictive data to implement sustainable practices, better share their story and make more money.

“Hundreds of farmers have signed on to receive a Monarch Tractor and we look forward to delivering a new level of sustainability and efficiency to their existing farm operations.”

Key features 

Renewable Technology – Traditional diesel tractors produce roughly 14 times the emissions as the average car. The Monarch Tractor is 100 percent electric and has zero tailpipe emissions. It also serves as a 3-in-1 electrification tool operating not only as a tractor, but with extra storage acts as an ATV, and has the capabilities to perform as a powerful generator in the field.

Driver Optional – The Monarch Tractor can operate with or without a driver. The company utilises the latest autonomous hardware and software technology to provide 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.

Unprecedented Safety – The Monarch Tractor is packed with safety features including roll and collision prevention, vision-based Power Take Off (PTO) safety and 360° cameras to keep operations running smoothly and employees safe, day or night.

Deep Learning and Sensing Suite – It 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. Additionally, the data collected is securely stored in a Monarch cloud.

Smart Device Operation –Via a smartphone or personal device, users receive tractor alerts, updates on current micro-weather conditions, detailed operations reports, data collection, analysis, and storage for more efficient farm planning.

Power – Tractor’s electric drivetrain is capable of providing 40HP (30KW) of continuous power and short duration peak power up to 70HP (55KW) in a small footprint for multi-purpose usage.

Safer and more sustainable farming

Carlo Mondavi, chief farming officer at Monarch Tractor, said: “As a fourth-generation farmer, I’ve seen first-hand the hazards that farming presents not just to workers, but to the environment as well. Monarch Tractor is moving farming toward a safer and sustainable future by eliminating harmful emissions, reducing the need for herbicides and keeping workers out of harm’s way with its driver-optional capabilities.”

New customer Wente Vineyards added two new Monarch Tractors to its fleet. Aly Wente, Wente Vineyards, director of marketing, said: “Adopting sustainable farming practices is core to our family and company values.

“We are pleased to partner with Monarch Tractor to further reduce our carbon footprint in 2021 by adding two new Monarch Tractors to our vineyard operations. We look forward to learning how Monarch can continue to help us create a more sustainable future, while also providing an efficient and safe environment for our teams.”

Monarch Tractor has already won the ‘2020 Tractor of the Year’ award in the AgTech Breakthrough Awards, was named one of World Ag Expo’s ‘Top 10 Best New Products’ and recognised in Fast Company’s ‘Best World-Changing Ideas: North America, Energy and Food.’

Monarch Tractor has a starting price of US$50,000 and can be reserved now with a fully refundable US$500 deposit. Shipping will commence in the autumn 2021.

By Chris McCullough

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