Eat my dust, these self-driving tractors could hit a field near you soon
Last week CNH Industrial brought along a few of it’s newest Batman inspired self-driving tractors to the Farm Progress Show in Boone, Iowa to give the attendees a taste of the future. And it’s highly likely that these beasts will make it into the fields long before the regulators green light self-driving cars for use on the nations highways.
These creations are distant cousins to the Roomba self guided vacuum cleaners that are invading many American homes. Equipped with lidar, multiple cameras, and GPS, these tractors can be controlled with a tablet or from a desktop. They can also work in tandem with other tractors, thanks to a vehicle to vehicle communications network.
These Autonomous Concept Vehicles can be programmed in less than a minute. The farmer needs to put in data such as boundary maps and known immovable objects. Then the farmer plans the tractor’s path and chooses its job from a pre-programmed menu. After that, autonomous tractor is ready to work.
Of course, fields filled with amber waves of grain don’t have obstacles like inebriated pedestrians falling off curbs or other tractors wandering into its path, so its software needs to be less elaborate than the control systems needed to make a fully autonomous car capable of operating on public roads. If the tractor senses an object in its path, it will come to a complete stop and wait for further guidance from the farmer. The self-driving tractors can significantly increase production and allow farmers to be more efficient.
The red and black concept tractors have a 419 horsepower engine and can reach a maximum speed of 31 mph. There was no information available at the fair about how much these wonders costs or when they might become available but self driving tractors make a lot of sense. No more plowing the back forty. Soon, modern farmers will be able to plow arrow straight furrows without any human intervention.
Now if only someone could make these tractors run on battery power instead of diesel fuel, that would be the icing on the cake.