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Farmers will soon get to work with Driverless tractors

The farmers in India may soon get the benefit of having home-based driverless tractors. An engineering company Escorts Ltd has announced one of the country’s first independent tractors on September 6.

Chander Mohan

The farmers in India may soon get the benefit of having home-based driverless tractors. An engineering company Escorts Ltd has announced one of the country’s first independent tractors on September 6. 

The tractor is still in the concept phase but will soon come in the market. Companies like Microsoft will help aligning these smart devices with the use of internet of things (IOT) concept and artificial intelligence (AI) tools. BOSCH, on the other hand will help in future emission readiness and Reliance Jio will help in improving the farm machinery life cycle. In September 2017, Mahindra and Mahindra Ltd, country’s biggest manufacturer of tractors introduced its first driverless tractor. 

Though, Escorts and M&M are big companies.  India is also home to world’s first driverless electric tractor. This was made by AutoNXT Automation, a totally bootstrapped Mumbai-based start-up, owned by an electrical engineer, Kaustubh Dhonde. 

The engineer says merely 18 percent of farmers in the country own more than 5 acres of land. And the ones who don’t have larger land areas should rent a tractor instead of buying one. 

Dhonde told his tractor, named ‘The Hulk’, will be shared by farmer’s community who own small pieces of land. “The average cost of renting a regular diesel tractor is about Rs. 1500 per acre per hour. However, The Hulk will bring down this cost to about Rs. 350 per hour,” claimed Dhonde. The Hulk is a 30hp tractor that can run for 150 km on each charge.  

There are also differences in the tools and technology used in India as compared to those used in developed countries. M&M’s uses GPS-based technology and US-based Bear Flag Robotics, is trying to make tractors that don’t need GPS.  Dhonde also said The Hulk does not use customary self-driving technology such as Light Detection and Ranging but depends upon cameras and software to navigate around the farm and perform the activities.  

To recall, the US-based Autonomous Tractor Corporation started developing automation technology for tractors in 2011. Two-and-a-half years later, England’s Harper Adams University showcased an autonomous tractor.

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