This electric, self-driving tractor takes farming to a whole new level -- and it's real

Farming never seemed so modern.

Sean Szymkowski
It all started with Gran Turismo. From those early PlayStation days, Sean was drawn to anything with four wheels. Prior to joining the Roadshow team, he was a freelance contributor for Motor Authority, The Car Connection and Green Car Reports. As for what's in the garage, Sean owns a 2016 Chevrolet SS, and yes, it has Holden badges.
Sean Szymkowski
2 min read

Farming, meet the future. This is the Monarch electric tractor and the company thinks it will help farmers solve a handful of problems all in one neat little package. The company revealed the tractor on Tuesday, with a zero-emissions powertrain, partially automated capabilities and even some wild "deep learning" technology to report back on plant and crop health.

In its launch video, embedded above, Monarch underscored that today's farmers face a growing set of problems, from climate change, worker shortages and safety concerns. The company's electric tractor is able to ease at least some of these burdens. For starters, it's totally electric, with peak horsepower of 70 hp for a few moments. Otherwise, the tractor puts out 40 hp. The electric powertrain also gives the tractor generator-like qualities out in the field to supply power to various tools.

Perhaps the more futuristic aspect of the tractor is that Monarch says it's "driver-optional." Self-driving hardware and software gives farmers the ability to instruct it to complete preprogrammed tasks. Or, operators can use Gesture or Shadow modes and the machine will follow them while on the job. Pretty amazing, if it works as promised. Active safety features such as roll and collision prevention systems help keep things safe too.

Those deep learning capabilities? Basically, while it's out plowing fields, it can store up to 240GB worth of data that it can then share with operators to help improve plant and crop health in real-time, or provide insight on yields in the future. The longer the tractor works, the more accurate it becomes. And anyone using Monarch's machine can also receive alerts from the tractor, such as weather and operational reports, and various other analyses.

Modern farming looks pretty neat, if you ask me, and it's coming next fall for $50,000. Monarch will take $500 refundable deposits before the first units ship out in 2021.

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