February 14, 2008 Designed to perform a range of pre-programmed agricultural tasks in vineyards, coffee farms, orchards and nurseries, this futuristic driver-less tractor concept aims to boost efficiency, minimize crop damage and remove humans for hazardous environments using GPS and Internet to track its location. The Valtra RoboTrac from 25 year old Estonian industrial designer Hannes Seeberg - whose portfolio also includes an intriguing Skylift self-propelled boarding aircraft boarding system - combines an 85 hp engine diesel engine and rear-wheel steering in either a two or four wheel drive configuration with the remotely programmable computerized navigation system to enable anything from tilling and plowing to planting and spraying.

As has always been the case as technology moves forward, varying degrees of autonomy are constantly being added to agricultural tasks. Previous examples in terms of tractors include John Deere's field robotic prototype and work at the University of Kentucky on converting conventional tractors into autonomous vehiclesTractor, 2005), but nothing we've seen has the design edge of the RoboTrac. According to Seeburg this practical, attractive design was inspired by the simple and clean lines of Valtra's existing range (Valtra is a leading tractor manufacturer in the Nordic countries with a strong presence in Latin America), combined in part with an effort to encapsulate the powerful profile of a bull.

Seeburg also notes that the design is a move away from the trend toward "monstrously huge equipment" and believes the smaller size provides greater versatility and would be much welcomed by Scandinavian and Central European farmers.

    RoboTrac Technical information:
  • 2 or 4 wheel drive, depending on a need
  • steering rear wheels. Rear wheels are wider to get better ground support and eliminate need for double-wheels
  • length 4235mm, width 2310 mm, height 2170mm
  • 85 hp engine diesel engine and a 200 litre fuel tank
  • SkyLift-boarding system

    The second standout design from Seeberg's portfolio is the "SkyLift". Aiming to address some of the safety and comfort problems associated with the use of passenger stairs in small and middle-sized airports, the SkyLift is a self-propelled, remotely-controlled platform consisting of two elevators and a bridge that could accommodate up to 60 people and service a range of medium and wide body aircraft with a door sill height between 2200 mm and 5800 mm. See the gallery for a closer look.

    Hannes Seeberg founded the Industrial Design consultancy Provoke Tallinn in December 2007. His approach focuses on practical ideas drawn from user research. To learn more contact Hannes via email.

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