Agriculture is the most important industry globally. The Indian agricultural industry is expected to reach USD 580.82 billion by 2028. As the global population is on the verge of surpassing 8 billion, there will be an endless demand for crops & livestock. However, to meet such rising demand, it will be difficult for manpower to increase production.
To feed such a vast population, farm equipment automation must be integrated. Moreover, other than agriculture drones, Autonomous tractors are the future of the rapidly evolving agricultural industry.
Let’s understand what autonomous tractors are, their benefits, how they work, and they are here to be sustainable.
What are Autonomous Tractors? — Understanding the Basics!
Autonomous farming tractors can be categorized as self-driving farm machinery equipment that delivers farming duties even in the absence of farmers. Furthermore, these tractors can be fully or partially autonomous and can be monitored remotely by a farmer. However, autonomous tractors help foresee crop conditions and keep informed about any kind of obstacles in the field pertaining to humans, animals, and objects.
All in all, a single operator (could be a farmer) will oversee these advanced self-driving tractors from a nearby location.
Benefits of Owning Autonomous Tractors
Owning a driverless or electric tractor serves the following purposes:
1. Better farming productivity
Driverless tractors are engineered to function without any breaks. As a result, they can work for the long haul and can help complete farming chores more effectively and efficiently.
2. Supports accurate yet consistent operations
Autonomous tractors work through precise data mapping. Thus, the chances of errors & emissions stay slim to none. Thereby, they help complete the farming activities with more accuracy and consistency.
Autonomous farm tractors can help till and plant seeds with precision & accuracy. As a result, this helps anticipate higher yields, thus adding to financial gains. In short, these self-driven tractors backed by farm automation technology help make laborious tasks fast and efficient. Furthermore, other than tilling and sowing, farmers can use these tractors to ensure:
- Efficient fertilizer distribution.
- Reduce fuel wastage.
- Lower the overall production costs.
3. Less cost of Labour
Driving robotic tractors reduces the cost of variables like labour. Moreover, the operation of these AI-driven tractors doesn’t require much labour to operate. Thereby, you can save on a lot of labour costs by investing a big sum at once.
Inflation restricts the farmers from adding more headcounts. Moreover, the limitation with workers is that they can work only for the said timeline. Moreover, they are physically drained since they get involved in physical tasks. Also, adding autonomous tractors parallel to the human workforce helps reduce such hassles and increase productivity.
4. Safe operations are guaranteed
Driverless tractors reduce field hazards & injuries. Since these tractors don’t require human drivers, they stay safe from any uncalled hazard or emergency.
5. Leads to sustainability
Autonomous tractors operate on scarce fuels. They require zero or fewer fuel reserves, which helps us attain a high level of sustainability.
6. Prevents Human Errors
Human errors are inevitable. One nanosecond of negligence from a human counterpart can lead to serious field-related accidents or events that can destroy crops.
These tractors offer laser-focused artificial cognition that eliminates keywords like fatigue, error, and
7. Reliable Data Gathering
Modern autonomous farm tractors have sensors that help collect precise field information. The information can be pertaining to:
- Land and soil conditions
- Crop growing conditions and health.
- Data before and after cropping.
- Data related to field animals.
The collected data from small and large farms helps farmers gain actionable insights that help make better strategies, plans and decisions that could help with more yield.
How Does a Driverless Tractor Function?
Driverless tractors are programmed with a set of instructions and operate in the following manner:
- These electric tractors are coded with pre-defined instructions and have a map of the field embedded within them. This helps them navigate the field and aid tasks from tilling to harvesting.
- The tractor has smart sensors in the forms of cameras, radar and lidar that helps gather the field’s minute-to-minute happenings. It can even help sense any hazard or danger pertaining to farm animals, weather abnormalities and any deviances.
- With the gathered information, the tractor navigates the field and helps perform various tasks related to planting, cultivating, and harvesting crops at the right time.
- These tractors have smart mapping systems. GPS and automated crop management systems
that helps get a real-time view of the crops.
- We are not saying that these tractors are completely autonomous. They include certain remote-controlled farm machinery as well that can be controlled remotely by humans. They can easily intervene and supervise the field whenever required.
What’s worth noting? All driverless tractors operate on different technologies and approaches. Not all of these precision agriculture robots might be programmed to perform similar functions. Hence, you must understand the role and functionality of each kind before purchasing.
Are Autonomous Tractors Futureproof?
However, experts have predicted that in 2020, the world’s agricultural robotics market stood at an In valuation of $4.9 billion. Moreover, Markets and Markets reports claim that by 2026, this value will rise even more and touch $11.9 billion.
Agricultural drones are leading the agricultural market currently. Owing to this, autonomous tractors are also catching up with the hype. Moreover, by 2024, AI tractors will be surpassing drones as well.
However, leading brands like John Deere, in collaboration with Bear Flag Robotics, and Monarch Tractor are planning to introduce autonomous tractors. Moreover, today brands like Autonxt, CASE IH, Mahindra & Mahindra, and Escorts are launching electric tractors that can be operated unmanned.
Check out the latest Autonxt tractors, made to scale up farming.
Autonomous Tractors – The Shortcomings
These automated, self-driving tractors still have some gaps despite having overarching benefits.
1. High acquiring costs
Compared to traditional tractors, driverless tractors can be expensive. This can limit the marginal farmers from purchasing them.
2. Limited capabilities
Autonomous tractors are suitable for application in specified fields and environments.
3. Operated through technology
Driverless tractors are powered by modern technologies like GPS systems and sensors to deliver accurate and precise output. As a result, these AI-driven machines are prone to technical malfunctions. Therefore, it will further require only expert technical assistance to resolve them.
4. Lack of flexibility
Autonomous tractors cannot completely overtake farming operations. It’s because they are programmed and lack the human instinct to operate or adapt to unfamiliar situations.
However, these issues can be solved if manufacturers make smart farming equipment easily available and accessible for Indian farmers. This way, they won’t have to think twice before purchasing self-driving tractors despite having thin margins.
Other than our latest farming techniques, our farm mechanization solutions also need to improve to be able to feed people at scale at a faster turnaround. Moreover, as an inclusion to advanced farming machinery, today we have autonomous tractors from famous brands like Mahindra & Mahindra, CASE IH, and Escorts to meet the production needs of farmers at a big scale.
However, currently, there are certain challenges in leveraging unmanned precision farming equipment owing to the price point. But we believe, in ahead times, leading tractor OEMs will realize the potential of making these smart self-driving tractors accessible to Indian farmers at more reasonable rates.
Frequently Asked Questions
Que. What is the role of AI-powered tractors?
Ans. Autonomous tractors or driverless farm machinery are programmed tractors that work on data mapping and have GPS tracking properties to oversee every activity or grazing animal on the field.
Que. Which brands offer Self-driving tractors?
Ans. Popular brands like Mahindra & Mahindra, Escorts, Case IH, New Holland, and AutoNXT offer self-driving, highly efficient autonomous tractors.
Que. Who invented the idea of Unmanned tractors?
Ans. The idea of advanced self-driving, GPS-guided tractors came into light in 1940 by Frank W. Andrew.