India’s Mahindra & Mahindra , one of the biggest suppliers of smaller tractors to the U.S., and other manufacturers are racing to develop what they see as the future of farming: robo-tractors and other farming equipment to help produce more food, more sustain-ably at a lower cost.
The next generation is tractors that can drive entirely by themselves. After that: ones that can plant, fertilize and spray pesticides. London-based CNH Industrial is testing a tractor that has no driver’s cabin, with farmers expected to monitor planting and harvesting remotely.
Mahindra & Mahindra expects pushback from the millions of farmers whose livelihood could be threatened by automated farm equipment like the driverless tractor it is developing.
In India, for instance, hundreds of millions of farmers make up the country’s largest voter group. “We have decided it has to be a gradual process of migrating the farmers,” said Aravind Bharadwaj, chief technology officer for farm equipment at Mahindra.
Automation may replace some farm labor but the complexity of the electronics in the cab will ensure some agri-geek has a job. On another note for hundreds of years we have had self-driving vehicles that allow passengers to relax or work or sleeper; they are called cabs, buses, trains, planes, boats.