Monarch introduces the MK-V smart tractor, fully electric and fully autonomous.
Bay Area-based Monarch has sold six units of its zero-emissions Founder Series MK-V to leading wine, spirit and beer producer Constellation Brands.
It’s being claimed that the MK-V has the potential to reshape agriculture as we know it thanks to its use of electrification, automation and data analysis to help farmers reduce their carbon footprint, improve safety, streamline operations and increase profitability.
What Monarch terms its “driver optional” functionality comes via a suite of autonomous and robotics hardware and software tech, including the Nvidia Jetson edge artificial intelligence platform. This enables the MK-V to perform pre-programmed tasks without a driver – or allows an operator to implement “shadow mode,” which sees the tractor follow a worker performing a task.
Several tractors can be remotely operated by a single individual at any one time, which is hoped will help to address an alarming shortage of tractor drivers in the industry.
But the functionality goes well beyond that. The MK-V’s deep learning suite allows what might be considered autonomous farming, with crop data collected, analyzed and processed daily thanks to an array of sensors and cameras, some of which are 3D.
The visual data can be used to assess long-term yield estimates, current growth stages and more. In addition, the tractor remains constantly connected, via a smartphone or other device, for status alerts, operations reports and data updates.
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)
As far as I know, the first reference in science fiction to an electric tractor is in World of Purple Light by Warner Van Lorne, published by Astounding Science Fiction in 1936.
A small electric tractor was working at the far side, and a slight hum could be heard from where he sat.
(Read more about the electric tractor)
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