Not to be confused with robots on TV or in the movies, these robots are real. John Deere has instigated a research program designing fully unmanned robotic farm tractors. And by tractor, I don’t mean the tiny 4-cylinder device you might use around the house. In this case, I’m talking about about the big farm tractors that roam the acres of commercial farmland in middle-America.
Completely automatic driving systems already exist – and in fact are already being used today. But today the operator has to hang out in the cab ready to control the more esoteric aspects of farming. A farmer today can start up his tractor and get in some reading (sci-fi no doubt) while the computer in the cab drives whatever machine he’s got to either sow or reap. And the systems can automatically switch between crops depending on what field you’re on – doing the right thing for soybeans and a different thing for corn. Again, while the driver barely has to look up. The researcher at Deere are unashamed of promoting the fact that eventually they will get the farmer out of the silo entirely. Luckily I don’t fear a War Games scenario with this like I might with missile launch systems.
Second, at the recent Big Iron farm show in North Dakota, total-farm WiFi systems were pitched. Not designed to allow the farmer surf the web, but instead being utilized for remotely operated watering, feeding, and other systems used today on a farm.
Eventually our farmers will merely sit down at the operations center inside their massive farmhouse and direct the operation of the farm, much like a power planet operator or network administrator does today.