Friday, November 16, 2012

Future’s Now: The New Generation of No-Driver Tractors

Finally it’s there!
The prototype Spirit autonomous tractor, presented  at the Big Iron Farm Show in West Fargo, ND in September, breaks the convention and avoids of the necessity for a driver to operate the vehicle from the cab. Actually, with the driver aside and the machine’s rectangular shape, it looks like rubber-tracked yellow LEGO block, more than a modern tractor. “That’s the look of the future” says Terry Anderson, the president of the Autonomous Tractor Corporation and the Spirit designer at the same time. 
Anderson makes a point that not much has changed in tractor design for the last decade, except that the machines got bigger and more sophisticated. Being the entrepreneur, with some knowledge of communication technology, industrial machine design and manufacturing, Anderson decided that some changes are inevitable. The most conspicuous difference between the Spirit and the any traditional tractor, that you spot instantly is the lack of the tractor cab. The company’s design objective was to build a low – cost and durable tractor, featured with the safe, no-driver navigation system. The Spirit model is going to have long, 25.000 – hr. service life, a 500 – hr. service interval and a maximum 2-hr. repair time, with the selling price of $500 per horsepower. That includes a hybrid laser-radio navigation system, eliminating the chances to stray outside field boundaries.

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