John Deere Self-Driving Tractor

The future of farming is starting to flower!

Marcus Hall was nine years old when he first drove a tractor on his family's sprawling Iowa farm, eschewing Tonka trucks and Matchbox cars for long rides on heavy machinery...

Hall slides into the driver's seat of a new John Deere row-crop tractor, preparing for our test drive. His seat is flanked on the right with an array of iPads, touchscreens, and control panels, which slightly obscure a wraparound windshield encasing the two-seater cockpit. With a few taps on an iPad, he checks that the system is ready for seed disbursement, citing terms like row population, back pressure, and singulation. The tractor eases into motion, and after a few more control checks, Hall sits back, hands folded comfortably in his lap.

The tractor is driving itself.

(Via How self-driving tractors, AI, and precision agriculture will save us from the impending food crisis.)

This idea is not new to science fiction readers. Scientifiction writer Otfrid von Hanstein wrote about the idea of farms with machines capable of running themselves in his 1935 story The Hidden Colony:


(Conscious autonomous farm robot)

Machines that seemingly with full consciousness walked out into the fields to do their daily work. And even now there was no living being among them save myself... Had these machines in some incredible fashion been provided with brains?
(Read more about autonomous farm machines)

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'...a towering eighty-story structure like the office In-and Out baskets stacked up to the sky.' - Poh and Kornbluth, 1952.

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