Dezeen Magazine

Monarch Tractor is a fully electric and driverless tractor to help meet growing farming demands

US firm Monarch Tractor has developed an all-electric and autonomous tractor in a bid to mitigate the effects of climate change and help farmers meet growing demands.

While traditional diesel-powered tractors produce approximately 14-times more emissions than an ordinary car, according to the US firm, the Monarch Tractor has no tailpipe emissions due to its fully electric powertrain.

In addition to cutting harmful emissions, the California-based company designed the vehicle to increase labour productivity and maximise yield to support farmers' existing operations.

The company claims it is the "world's first fully electric, driver optional, smart tractor integrated on a single platform."

The fully electric and autonomous Monarch Tractor
Monarch Tractor has released an all-electric and autonomous tractor

The tractor is also able to operate with or without a driver, using autonomous technologies to offer driver-assist and driver-optional operations. It can perform pre-programmed tasks without an operator, while its Gesture and Shadow modes enable it to follow a worker on the job.

To prevent accidents when in any of these driverless modes, the tractor features 360-degree cameras that support roll and collision prevention and vision-based Power Take Off (PTO) safety.

The fully electric and autonomous Monarch Tractor can connect to users' smartphone
Users can connect the tractor to their smartphone to receive alerts and updates

"Monarch Tractor is ushering in the digital transformation of farming with unprecedented intelligence, technology and safety features,” said Praveen Penmetsa, co-founder of Monarch Tractor.

"We have assembled a world-class team of farmers, engineers, and scientists to meet today's farming demands and are empowering farmers by giving them intelligent tools to collect more predictive data to implement sustainable practices, better share their story and make more money," the co-founder continued.

The Monarch Tractor also features machine-learning capabilities that allow it to collect and analyse over 240 gigabytes of "crop data" taken from the field it operates in.

This information, which is stored in a Monarch cloud, can be used for real-time implement adjustments as well as to provide long-term analyses of field and crop health, yield estimates and current growth stages.

Users can connect the tractor to their smartphone or personal device to receive alerts and updates on the vehicle, as well as weather conditions in the area and detailed operation and data collection reports.

The fully electric and autonomous Monarch Tractor
The Monarch Tractor has machine-learning capabilities to analyse crop health

"As a fourth-generation farmer, I've seen firsthand the hazards that farming presents not just to workers, but to the environment as well," said Carlo Mondavi, chief farming officer at Monarch Tractor.

"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," he continued.

The fully electric and autonomous Monarch Tractor
The US firm hopes its tractor will cut emissions and increase farmers' labour productivity

The tractor's electric drivetrain can provide 40 horsepower (30 kilowatts) of continuous power, and a short-duration peak power of up to 70 horsepower (55 kilowatts). It takes around four to five hours to charge.

Monarch Tractor is not the first company to look to electrifying the machine in order to cut emissions. Rem Koolhaas's research organisation AMO worked with car manufacturer Volkswagen earlier this year to design a concept for an electric tractor for use in sub-Saharan Africa.

The e-tractor concept is designed to increase the productivity of small-scale subsistence farmers, and would not be sold to individuals but instead would be rented to villages so it can be shared by farmers.