I saw this recently on CNET – I Thought I Knew Why They’re Making Electric Tractors. I Didn’t: https://www.cnet.com/roadshow/news/i-thought-i-knew-why-theyre-making-electric-tractors-i-didnt/. Longer article.
Brian Cooley June 11, 2022
While car makers struggle to create a world of electric, autonomous connected cars, a tractor company thinks such a revolution makes a lot more sense on the farm. Monarch Tractor’s vehicle applies those technologies to work that’s more valuable and more frequent than that done by our cars, gathering data along the way that they believe will improve food.
“Ag for me made a lot more sense when I looked at the technology,” said Monarch Tractor CEO Praveen Penmetsa. “Electric, automated and smart technologies really have a place in agriculture.”
Penmetsa has roots in high performance electric cars but always found the push for connected, autonomous cars to be a reach. In tractors those technologies are natural as the vehicle plies organized land and replicates known patterns. In the rare case it encounters a pedestrian, it does so at 3 miles per hour. “It’s a much more controlled environment. It’s a more solvable problem now.”
While the casual observer may focus on zero emissions and the lack of a driver needed for what Penmetsa calls “dull, dirty and dangerous” work. The big idea is sensing and data: Monarch hopes its tractor becomes a platform for apps and AI that use its visual data gathering and detailed process recording to create better harvests without having to add drone or satellite technology that isn’t already on most farms. “The tractor sits at the center of almost every operation on the farm,” said Penmetsa. “That makes it the logical platform to collect data.”