Thursday, September 01, 2016

Robot -Tractor-, finally.

At long last, a practical use for all that self-driving car tech: self-driving tractor. And a badass looking one at that.

That is one burly tractor.

Case IH, the agricultural-machinery unit of CNH Industrial NV, this week unveiled a sleek, aggressive-looking red-and-black machine at the annual Farm Progress Show in Boone, Iowa.

This tractor -- CNH calls it the Autonomous Concept Vehicle -- has one obvious difference compared with more conventional models: there's no cab for a driver. Instead, it comes equipped with cameras, radar and GPS, allowing a farmer to remotely monitor planting and harvesting via an app on a tablet computer, the company's Brand President Andreas Klauser said in an interview Wednesday as crowds gathered around the machine to snap photographs.

One of the best things I can think of for a machine like this to be doing is gang-planting the idiotically large fields out west. Picture five of these things in echelon formation, playing follow-the-leader like a bunch of Roomba vacuum cleaners, except they're all pulling 40 ft wide no-till seed drills. That's some economy of scale right there. Do the same thing with sprayers and combine harvesters, you've got a one-man show.

The Phantom

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