The robotic system that operated on Rick Elliott’s farm near Monmouth, Ill., didn’t resemble a robot. Instead, it looked like a typical combine-tractor-and-grain-cart setup—except the tractor moving through the field was empty.

Kinze Manufacturing brought media to western Illinois to witness its new Autonomous Harvest System working in fields on customer farms. This was the second time Kinze had shown its system to the media. The first time was a year ago in an experimental setting at the company’s headquarters in Iowa. Since then, Kinze spent a year improving the system and was ready to show it again and in extended action.

The system worked well that morning. The empty tractor with a Kinze grain cart followed the combine through the field like a puppy dog. When the combine needed unloading, the tractor and cart moved in close beside the combine and maintained perfect position under the auger. After unloading was finished, the tractor and cart drove to a position in the field and awaited further instruction.