Thanks to companies like Monarch, farm machinery is finally getting its own electric vehicle awakening. The company’s latest fully electric and autonomous tractor could prove revolutionary for the agricultural industry.
Called, rather imaginatively, the Monarch Tractor, this “smart” tractor is a world first.
What’s more, this e-tractor could’ve come at a better time. Farmers around the world are struggling with labor shortages, climate change, safety concerns, increasing customer awareness of sustainability, and other synthetic costs imposed on them through government regulations.
Monarch’s Tractor has been designed to help alleviate as many of these issues as possible for prospective buyers of their e-tractor. According to Monarch, it does this “by combining electrification, automation, machine learning, and data analysis to enhance farmer’s existing operations, increase labor productivity and safety, and maximize yields to cut overhead costs and emissions.”
As it stands, the company has already secured several hundred, or so, working farms as prospective buyers for their new e-vehicle.
Traditional tractors tend to run on diesel which is not the best fuel to burn for the environment. They also pump out the same amount of emissions as 14 average-sized cars.
Being 100% electrical, the Monarch Tractor has zero tailpipe emissions — unlike many of its predecessors. Not only that, but with extra storage, the e-tractor can act as a sort of ATV and work as an ad hoc power generator in the field.
That’s 3 functions for the price of 1.
It’s also a powerful piece of kit too. The tractor’s electric drivetrain is capable of pumping out 40HP (30KW) of continuous power and short duration peak power up to 70HP (55KW) in a small footprint for multi-purpose usage.
Monarch’s electrical tractor is also pretty smart
Another interesting feature of the tractor is its ability to operate completely autonomously. By integrating the latest in autonomous technology and software, the tractor can be pr programmed to perform a series of tasks on demand. It can also be instructed to follow a farmhand on the job in a field.
These features also enable the tractor to potentially be one of the safest on the market. Its safety features include but are not limited to, 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.
Another fascinating feature of Monarch’s Tractor is its ability to learn using its integrated “Deep Learning and Sensing Suite”. Using this system, the tractor can collect up to 240GB of data a day while in operation in the field.
The tractor can use this data to build on any preprogrammed farmer’s instructions to help refine and improve farming practices and give the farmer real-time updates on crop yields, etc.
“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,” says Monarch.
The tractor can be controlled remotely using a smartphone or personal device, and users receive constant updates, alerts, micro-weather reports, operations status, analysis reports, and storage for more efficient farm planning.
So far, Monarch has received much praise for its innovative tractor from farmers and industry experts alike.
For example, the company received “2020 Tractor of the Year” in the AgTech Breakthrough Awards, was named one of World Ag Expo’s “Top 10 Best New Products,” and was recognized in Fast Company’s “Best World-Changing Ideas: North America, Energy, and Food.”
The tractor’s starting price tag is around the $50,000 mark, and prospective buyers can reserve a unit for as little as $500. Units began shipping in February of this year.
The potential impacts of this tractor for agriculture from a sustainability and logistics point of view cannot really be understated. Doubtless, Monarch’s competitors will be watching the progress of this groundbreaking piece of farming machinery very closely indeed.