Case IH Autonomous Farming Tractor Concept

Imagine this: a bunch of urbanites of the future venture into the outskirts of their high-tech concrete jungle and are greeted by what they expected to see in a rural area: farming of crops, except that, instead of tractors with a cabin where a real person gets behind the wheel, the farming equipment are working autonomously. The scenario may reminisce of a scene from a sci-fi movie, but it is not too farfetched to think this could be the future we are in for, especially when a company like Case IH Agriculture is already working hard to realize this farm of the future.

Case IH Autonomous Farming Tractor Concept

The company recently demonstrated an autonomous tractor concept at the 2016 Farm Progress Show in Boone, Iowa, that would take farming to the next high-tech level and straight into the future. Based on an existing Case IH Magnum tractor, this self-driving farming machine does away with the usual human-centric cabin and adopts a contoured, super sleek profile that befits its high-tech inner workings.

Leveraging a variety of sensors, including radar, LiDAR, and video cameras, the tractor can go about its preprogrammed route as you monitor and fine-tune the pathways as you see fit in the comfort of your office, or a tablet if you prefer not to be desk-bound.

You can add high-tech LED lights or sonar sensors to avoid obstacles if the field is cluttered with boulders or whatever nature has in store. Also, for easy maintenance, this smart tractor can be fitted with track belts or high-clearance tires.

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Case IH Autonomous Farming Tractor Concept

The vehicle is totally capable of sensing obstacles, even distinguishing if the obstacle is stationary or in motion. It can be programmed so that it will wait for the moving obstacle to clear its path before proceeding, or in some instances, stopping entirely and alerting you, via audio and visual alerts, so that you can reroute its path.

In addition, the routine can be intervened by an operator when required, while safety features such as halting when it loses GPS signal or position data, or when the manual stop button is activated, ensure the safe working of the machine, as well as safeguarding property, people and living things. There are also in-built automatic weather warnings which, presumably, will recall the machine in the event of imminent severe weather.

Case IH Autonomous Farming Tractor Concept

Case IH Autonomous Farming Tractor Concept heralds the future of farming, however, it is not the first. Companies like Autonomous Tractor Corporation have been experimenting with this concept back in 2012 or earlier. Though granted, ATC did not go all the way out in creating a truly autonomous machine. Instead, the company chose to retrofit existing machines, turning them into self-working farm workhorses.

In essence, they are about the same as Case IH also highlighted that an Autonomous Farming Tractor, if realized, can also be fitted with a cabin to accommodate an operator. In any case, the future is upon us and the only question that remains is: are the farmers up for it?

Images courtesy of Case IH Agriculture.

Case IH Agriculture via Popular Science