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The future of driverless tractors came into closer focus this fall as Kinze unveiled an autonomous tractor system that aims to improve efficiency as farming operations gain in complexity.
Schildroth says Kinze is on a “very controlled rollout” of the autonomous system. The company has not decided how many farmers will test the system next year. And pricing has not been set. But the company does plan to market the system in the future.
Kinze also is working on an autonomous system for planters.
“This type of technology is certainly appealing from an efficiency standpoint,” Schildroth says. “It allows farmers to expand the acreage they cover without hiring more help.
“As we design these, we are ending up with systems that are safer than existing systems. For example, we have a full-time, 360-degree monitoring of the tractor. A human can’t do that,” he says.
But farmers will need to be convinced that the system is safe. “People are skeptical of the technology until they see it running,” Schildroth adds. “But after they see it, they don’t ask me if it works. They ask how much will it cost and when can they get it delivered.”