India's largest tractor company Mahindra & Mahindra (M&M), on Tuesday, showcased its first-ever indigenously developed driverless tractor.
We have heard enough about self-driving cars and trucks that have already hit roads in many parts of the world. Now, it's time for self-driving tractors which could prove revolutionary for Indian agricultural landscape.
"This innovation will change the future of farming by increasing productivity, leading to increased food production to feed the growing needs of the world," M&M Managing Director Pawan Goenka said in a statement.
Developed at Mahindra Research Valley (MRV) near Chennai, the autonomous technology will offer small farmers better operational efficiencies for tasks such as planting, spraying, and harvesting. M&M plans the commercial launch of these tractors by early 2018 and it will be done in three phases. Firstly, it will introduce automated steering-assisted tractors and the second one will be quasi-driverless tractors. The third stage will be the rollout of complete driverless tractors.
"Coupled with our ‘DiGiSENSE’ technology that we launched last year, the driverless tractor offers a distinct advantage to the Indian farmer by bringing an unprecedented level of intelligence to the tractor,” said Rajesh Jejurikar, President, Farm Equipment Sector, Mahindra & Mahindra.
Some of the unique features of the driverless tractor are: Autosteer- GPS based technology that enables a tractor to travel along a straight line; Auto-headland turn that enables the tractor to orient itself along adjacent rows for continuous operation without any steering input from the farmer; and Auto-implement lift- Feature in the tractor that automatically lifts the work tool from the ground at the end of a row and lowers the tool after the tractor has oriented itself for operation at the next row.
The company said that the technology will be deployed across Mahindra tractor platforms in due course of time and also across international markets such as the US and Japan.