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Electric, self-driving tractor may just be the future of farming as we know it

The world of farming is changing rapidly. Whether it’s CRISPR editing for improving crop yields, smart scarecrows, or robot weeding machines, this sector continues to transform at a breakneck speed.

To add one more technology to this shifting landscape, the new autonomous Monarch Tractor offers what may be the most futuristic twist we’ve yet seen on the classic tractor vehicle type. It’s a self-driving (or driver-optional) tractor, boasting 360-degree cameras and an assortment of on-board sensors and other autonomous navigation tools to maneuver around farms without human input required.

But rather than simply being capable of driving from point A to point B, the Monarch Tractor promises to carry out any function a farmer might use a tractor for, interfacing with other tractor attachments, along with carrying out assessments on crop health and more. Depending on the mode, they can work autonomously, controlled in a fleet by farmers on the ground, or tailing other drivers in a shadow mode. It’s an impressive piece of tech.

Monarch Tractor
Monarch Tractor

“The Monarch Tractor is fully autonomous, but it also works with existing tractor drivers, as well as interfacing with existing implements,” Praveen Penmesta, founder and CEO of Monarch, told Digital Trends. “We didn’t want to change the appearance [too much from the traditional vehicle so] that the farming community didn’t recognize it as a tractor. However, we wanted to make the Monarch Tractor adaptive so that it can grow with the farmer. We wanted to ensure our compact tractor could implement any attachment and have it work fully electrically like the tractor, and maintain balance and productivity.”

The electric, self-driving vehicle can last 10-12 hours on one charge or, where needed, three to four hours on a higher horsepower capacity. It sports a three-point hitch and is able to lift up to 2,200 pounds.

“The Monarch Tractor is a true game-changer for global farming in providing an all-electric tractor that reduces diesel usage and emissions, reduces labor costs through automation, and provides actionable data,” Penmesta continued.

The Monarch Tractor will be shipping in the fall of 2021. Its starting price is $50,000. Coming soon to a farm near you.

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Luke Dormehl
I'm a UK-based tech writer covering Cool Tech at Digital Trends. I've also written for Fast Company, Wired, the Guardian…
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