Paddocks farmed by autonomous and electric tractors could be a reality if prototypes like this “X tractor” from Kubota comes to fruition.
First unveiled in January, the Kubota X tractor combines artificial intelligence with an electric drivetrain to create a device that could draw on weather data and crop growth rates to autonomously tend to everyday farming tasks.
While the upfront costs of autonomous tractor equipment may deter farmers, a lower cost of ownership as well as savings made from reducing labour and materials costs on the farms may be compelling.
Agricultural equipment makers such as Kubota and John Deere also recognise as farming, which has traditionally been a generational business, is eroded as youngsters move away from the country, there is also a need to provide a transition to a new way of farming.
For Japan, where many farmers are reaching retirement age, the Kubota “dream tractor” proffers a replacement worker that can not only navigate its way around the paddock but also make decisions like when to hoe, sow and harvest.
Aside from the realities of a changing way of farming life, we think the cutesie design of the Kubota X tractor might also bring a form of robotic companionship to farming life: the R2D2 of agriculture.
Bridie Schmidt is lead reporter for The Driven, sister site of Renew Economy. She specialises in writing about new technology and has been writing about electric vehicles for two years. She has a keen interest in the role that zero emissions transport has to play in sustainability and is co-organiser of the Northern Rivers Electric Vehicle Forum.