As if we needed any more evidence that electric vehicles are taking over essentially every form of vehicle, Monarch Tractor is announcing a new all-electric tractor.
However, the term “tractor” doesn’t seem sufficient to describe this technology-infused and autonomous all-in-one farm tool.
We’ve seen concepts for electric tractors thrown around by heavyweights like John Deere before. But the electric Monarch Tractor isn’t just an electric version of a typical farm-based hauling machine.
Yes, it’s still a workhorse with a small footprint, powered by a 55 kW (70 hp) peak-rated motor and offering twice the torque of a comparable diesel-powered tractor.
But it’s also loaded with tech designed to make farming both safer and more efficient, not to mention more sustainable.
The Monarch Tractor can be driven like a typical tractor, but is also designed to operate autonomously, as well as part of a fleet of robotic tractors.
Operators can program tasks and jobs ahead of time to be performed automatically. Or automation features like Gesture and Shadow can be used to follow workers on the job.
While the gravity of that capability might not be quite as appreciable to those of us that haven’t worked a farm, consider what that means. Nearly as easily as you might send your Roomba off to clean your apartment or home while you’re out, a farmer can send his tractor out to the fields to work alone.
And the Monarch Tractor isn’t just a smart tractor; it’s actually a 3-in-1 farm tool. In addition to its tractor duties, it can also be reconfigured as an ATV and it serves as a powerful electrical generator in the field. You can whip out your arc welder and perform repairs using the tractor as a power source.
The Monarch Tractor relies on a deep learning and sensing suite to operate safely and efficiently. It includes 360-degree cameras and other sensors to avoid collisions or rolls, and collects and analyzes over 240GB of crop data every day that it operates in the field.
By using machine learning, the Monarch Tractor analyzes this data to provide long-term analysis of the health of fields and crops, continuously improving accuracy the longer it operates.
On-tractor controls include a touch-screen display, while farmers can also operate the tractor remotely using a smartphone or personal device.
As Chief Farming Officer Carlo Mondavi explained in a statement provided to Electrek:
As a fourth-generation farmer, I’ve seen firsthand the hazards that farming presents not just to workers, but to the environment as well. Monarch Tractor is moving farming toward a safer and sustainable future by eliminating harmful emissions, reducing the need for herbicides and keeping workers out of harm’s way with its driver-optional capabilities.
The Monarch Tractor starts at $50,000 and is currently taking reservations with a $500 deposit for delivery in Fall 2021.
Monarch Tractor already has customers lining up
So far, Monarch has a list of several hundred farms ready to make the switch.
As owner of Hopville Farms in Oregon’s Jim Hoffmann explained, the autonomous nature of the tractor is what really draws him to the new technology:
The Monarch Tractor’s autonomous features take it from just an environmental sustainability idea to a really higher productivity implement. There are a lot of ‘must do’ things on the farm that you would like to see done autonomously and not dedicating people to having them do… this tractor can do it more efficiently.
And it’s not just traditional farms that are signing up with Monarch Tractor.
Aly Wente of Wente Vineyards in California discussed how the sustainable tractor is helping Vineyards become even greener:
Adopting sustainable farming practices is core to our family and company values. We are pleased to partner with Monarch Tractor to further reduce our carbon footprint in 2021 by adding two new Monarch Tractors to our vineyard operations. We look forward to learning how Monarch can continue to help us create a more sustainable future, while also providing an efficient and safe environment for our teams.
While companies like John Deere have toyed with electric tractor concepts but have yet to express interest in bringing machines to market and other companies simply joke about the idea, Monarch Tractor seems ready to charge up the farming industry.
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