Are the days of driving a tractor over?
Two of the biggest tractor companies in America recently unveiled self driving tractors, hoping that the new technology will help make farmers' lives easier. A recent report from Fortune revealed that John Deere's model, the 9X, will use a combination of cameras and cloud computing to allow the tractor to monitor itself.
Speaking to Iowa farmer T.J. Coughenour, Fortune learned that the new vehicle allowed the operator to focus on matters more important to their crops.
"It sped our production up out in the field. It gave us the opportunity to let the tractor do what it needed to do and allowed us to focus on what was going on behind the tractor now," Coughenour told Fortune. Coughenour continued, saying that he could watch to ensure even distribution of grain rather than worry about driving the tractor.
According to Fortune, John Deere currently has a 60 percent market share for farming equipment in the U.S., but the company saw a 5 percent decrease in revenue last year. Deere hopes to compensate for this by focusing on software and adding more technology to its product.
Rather than develop its own technology, Caterpillar is partnering with Farb Guidance Systems (FGS) for automating their tractors.
"We give farmers the freedom to monitor their land and farm the land the way they want, from wherever they want, through the latest technology," Dave Farb, FGS founder and president said in a statement. "When one or multiple units are in the field, farmers will realize they can see a greater return on generations of hard work."
FGS is also selling it's system separately from the tractor, so those with older or used tractors can take advantage of this new technology.
According to messenger-index.com, a lack of federal regulation on self driving vehicles for farm use has allowed this industry to progress much faster than automated cars.