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Home Spotlight Field of dreams: Autonomous vehicles heading to the farm

Field of dreams: Autonomous vehicles heading to the farm

Concept tractors don’t even have a place for a farmer to sit

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Highways and byways aren’t the only places autonomous electric vehicles are headed. According to a 215-page report by IDTechEx, a market research that specializes in emerging technology, down on the farm is upfitting to self-driving EVs.

“Electric Vehicles and Robotics in Agriculture 2020-2030” is the title of the report, which notes, “As with cars, we have had the phase of electric variants of farm vehicles based on existing platforms and therefore not very successful but Kubota and John Deere newly have ‘born electric’ concept tractors reading to the strengths by being robotic with triangular tracks.”

Included in the report summary is a photo of the Kubota “Dream Tractor,” which the Japanese manufacturer unveiled earlier this year as part of its 130th anniversary celebration. The report notes that John Deere also has displayed autonomous electric farm equipment.

“This ‘dream tractor’ is a completely autonomous tractor that represents the future of farming drawn by Kubota,” the company said, adding that the tractor operates with artificial intelligence and is designed for “smart agriculture… to address the challenges facing Japanese farmers.”

Among those issues, Kubota said, are an increasing number of farmers retiring because of age. 

Kubota added that replacing traditional wheels and tires with “crawler” technology provides stability on uneven terrain and in “wet paddies,” and provides for adjustable ride height. 

Kubota’s 1970 dream machine for farming

By the way, this is not Kubota’s first concept tractor. In 1970, it unveiled another “Dream Tractor” at the Japan World Exposition, that one designed for functionality, ease of operation and driver comfort.

While autonomous EVs may be heading to farm fields, the IDTechEx report notes, “Even in the most advanced countries, few farms can provide the power to fast-charge a Tesla or an electric tractor, let alone large farm vehicles.”

Solutions include solar cells that unroll “like a carpet along a field” and tethered drones that turn wind into electrical power.

Larry Edsall
A former daily newspaper sports editor, Larry Edsall spent a dozen years as an editor at AutoWeek magazine before making the transition to writing for the web and becoming the author of more than 15 automotive books. In addition to being founding editor at ClassicCars.com, Larry has written for The New York Times and The Detroit News and was an adjunct honors professor at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University.

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