Now all they have to do is ask how many farmers that do not want to drive tractors. Then they will have a rough estimate of how large the self driving tractor market is. It is one thing for geeks coming up with technology and another to force their clients to adopt to their visions. Or they will just have to buy farmland themselves and make their ideas come true. They can also do automatic cultivation if they buy pigs, cows and horses. These take care of the plants and then we can eat the animals instead of having them locked up in stables. Just like it was intended. When they get bored by their spare time activities, like skiing, skydiving and other things when the manual work has been automated, then can just automate those activities to. Robots doing skiing for the geeks, so that they do not have to do it. Or parkour robots with a "new moves algorithm" (TM) which innovates mid air. Automatic programming languages with DNA-scripting functions adapt the whole ecosystem in real time. Just like in real life. Imagine.
That robot tractor looks really, really angry.
Joe Blough
Farming has been an early adopter of technology. GPS was used decades ago to map fields and then apply fertilizer in amounts that varied by location in a field. Combines are largely automated. Unlike the chaotic world of roads, fields don't have other traffic, few obstacles and self driving farm equipment vehicles are highly feasible and sensible. Go farmers.
Interesting time lag to this article since this has been happening in Ag for years.
Growling_M.A.D: the corporate mega farmer who won't have to hire tractor operators will be the big market for this. Think A.D.M. harvesting a half million acres of corn, the tractor can run 24/7 without any overtime or benefits.
When the world becomes fully automated, in every industrial facet, how will humans work for pay? Or will that aspect of our economy become outmoded, to the point we will not need to work for a living?
Self driving tractors are nothing new. John Deere has been using equipment to allow tractors drive themselves for well over a decade. They use highly accurate GPS, with ground point references, to insure that the planted rows are accurate to within a fraction of an inch. The equipment can be used in every aspect of farming; plowing, planting, prescription application (fertilizer, weed control, and insecticide), harvesting, etc. I know, because I got to work on the GreenStar2 2600, the GreenStar2 1800, and the GreenStar3 2630 back in 2009 - 2011.
So now we have self-driving cars and autonomous tractors. When is someone going to come out with a reasonably priced lawn mower that can do the job without burying wires in your yard or putting up reflectors or barriers? THAT will be an instant hit. Hardly anyone likes the boring job of mowing their lawn.
F. Tuijn
Agricultural machines have over the years become larger to increase the labour productivity of the operator despite the fact that large machines will damage the soil structure. Unmanned machines can be made much smaller, can be used in much smaller fields. You can then make your huge field into a chequer board with perhaps half a dozen or more different crops. This makes crop rotation much easier. Crops have different diseases that will find it difficult to spread. This will allow you to save on pesticides. You will have a few types of machines each with its set of tools for its several tasks and with one of each in reserve to take care of a failure. Those machines will be produced in much larger numbers than current machines and so will be cheaper for the same work capacity. In other words: think again.
We do not need no stinking humans!