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Farmer Jerry-Rigs Amazing Autonomous Tractor

For years, science fiction has told us that we’d have flying cars, robot housekeepers, and telephone wristwatches. We’d be whooshing around the galaxy in giant space ships, as artificial intelligence took care of our every need. The future looked bright back in the 20th century, but we’re only now starting to see the first viable SciFi innovations. Besides those stupidly expensive Apple watches, we’re finally seeing partially autonomous cars that can detect obstacles, and prevent us from having a crash. But farmers have been using autonomous tractors for over a decade. Take for example in the below video, where this farmer jerry-rigs an autonomous tractor to create efficiency and help automate his farming process. Technology and farming automation technologies are on the rise and the latest driver-less innovation from farm equipment makers like Kinzie Manufacturing will…blow your mind.

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Brief History of Driveless Tractors

At the beginning of the 20th century, the gas-powered tractor was starting to replace the horse as the most efficient way to farm. To make a profit from working the land, farmers have to control their costs by using labor, land, and resources in the most efficient way possible. The gas powered tractor allowed them to maintain larger crops, without spending much more time or money. And that obviously resulted in higher crop yields and higher profits. A hundred years later, overhead satellites were providing new ways for farmers to increase productivity without significantly increasing their overhead. A few mouse clicks now allowed them to plot their fields with GPS, and utilize every square inch of ground to plant even more profit.

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This new “Precision Farming” required machines that could maintain the newly optimized fields. A century after the tractor replaced the horse, GPS enabled tractors were starting to replace human beings, as satellite guided steering systems directed the massive tractors around the precisely mapped rows. In 2004, just 5% of new tractors were fitted with auto-steer systems. Four years later, that number had eclipsed 50%, as farmers embraced these efficient, self-steering machines.
Farmer Jerry-Rigs His Autonomous Tractor
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Farmer Jerry-Rigs His Autonomous Tractor

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The next step in creating a more efficient farm is full autonomy. By eliminating costly human error, and the associated paycheck/benefits for said human, farmers are hoping to preserve their way of life for a bit longer. Whereas, farmers use to be able to rely on their sheer grit, hard work and determination; These days, it takes huge amounts of money to run and operate a farm, and things like GPS field mapping, and computerized spreaders, ensure that money isn’t wasted overseeding, or spraying a row that’s already been sprayed. To take farming efficiency to the ‘next level’, equipment maker Kinzie Manufacturing is developing a fully-autonomous harvesting system that can turn most late-model tractors into self-driving field hands. It looks crazy, but YouTube videos like this one below show just how useful a robot tractor can be. Although heavily debated, farming 2.0 is finally here.
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