The Road to The World’s most Autonomous tractor
Witnessing the evolution of the tractor—especially to full automation—is important to Steve Maxwell at Maxwell Capital because it represents why we exist—it is our purpose, actualized. Vancouver BC
The tractor was introduced to farming to mechanize the inadequacies of manpower. Whether tilling, ploughing, planting, or maintaining the fields, it is undeniable that this technology revolutionized agriculture. It has become such as staple in initiatives such as sustainable living, the preservation of life, and environmental protection. From an engineering perspective, tractors are versatile, durable, and exhibit ease in transmission and operation and some of the notable benefits of this machine include increased efficiency in crop planting and yield, conservation of resources, and an overall reduction in farm labour. With a rap sheet that long, and one that radically changed how we farm, it’s hard to conceive a world where the tractor is further re-imagined. But with the recent reveal of the Monarch tractor, a fully electric and autonomous technology and the first of its kind in the field, we at Maxwell Capital, are looking back on the road to the Monarch tractor so we can really relish in how far agriculture has come.
Before touch screens and the cloud, the tractor’s genesis began with steam engines on wheels. In the early 19th century, this invention helped drive farm machinery using a flexible belt. Hardly sustainable though, in 1812, Richard Trevithick invented the Barn Engine—a portable steam engine mainly used to drive a corn threshing machine. A few decades later, in America, A. M. Archambault & Company developed the first farm steam engine, which functioned as the anchor for the implementation of powered wheels and steering capabilities. The steam engine later expanded and was ultimately used to drive a threshing machine. Perhaps the greatest leap from its early nineteenth century inception is the farm tractor transition from steam engines to gas. In 1890, John Froelich introduced the first gas-powered tractor to the farming industry and, by 1910, it became the standard for automotive farming.
Gas being the industry standard since that time, created economic opportunity for competition and companies quickly started bringing to market, model after model, of just enough mechanical and design change to witness differentiation on farms all over the world. Some of the most notable companies who where first to market, and even existing today include, Deere & Company, The Waterloo Gasoline Engine Company (which was purchased by Deere & Company), and Caterpillar. Advancements such as the four-wheel drive tractors, the invention of row-crop tractors, the management of crops and tractor use with GPS receiver, and
expansion of manufacturing into international markets such as Brazil were birthed through this era. By 2014, “industry experts endorsed the transition to driverless tractors in the near future. Major manufacturers, including John Deere, supported developments in autonomous machinery design.” It’s 2020, and it looks like Agritech has come as far the experts have predicted. The unveiling of the world’s first electric autonomous tractor has been a long time coming.
On December 8th, 2020, Monarch Tractor introduced to the world, a tractor that is an electric, driver-optional, smart machine, the first of its kind. This star came into the world in a manger riddled with the effects of climate change, a population crisis, labor shortages, safety concerns, and uncertainty about sustainability, among various other challenges, and for farmers and other titans of industry, this is our savior. According to the creators, Monarch delivers robust performance while producing zero tailpipe emission, and is intentionally designed with powerful tools that facilitate accurate data analytics, only possible with an all-electric platform. One of the engineering-objectives is the prioritization of clean farming, making it the rule as opposed to the exception. With technology that targets the symptoms climate change, farmers can start feeling a little more secure in their field performance. Monarch aims to “put the power back into the farmer’s hands,” and does so while cutting overhead costs and emissions. Not only is the Monarch technologically and environmentally sound, it is optimally safe. The makers boast that the smart tractor is loaded with safety features including Artificial intelligence, roll and collision prevention, 360° cameras and a full sensor suite and these safety features operate with or without a driver.
We at Maxwell Capital can hardly contain our excitement to see the Monarch in action, but we can dive a little deeper into the specs while we wait. Every farmer is going to want a tractor that is fast and efficient and the Monarch is no exception. It is equipped with a peak power of 70 horsepower, can lift up to 2200 pounds, with hydraulics of 12 gal per minute, and an operation time of 10 hours. With a charge time of 4-5 hours, this tractor can rest and reset when the farmer does. Optional features of the tractor include a driver and four-wheel drive. Though we can expect some of these specifications to change before the tractor hits the market fully, it is abundantly clear that the implications for agriculture are significant. Farmers can really get back to focusing on what matters while technology does the heavy lifting.
Witnessing the evolution of the tractor—especially to full automation—is important to Maxwell Capital because it represents why we exist—it is our purpose, actualized. We want to iterate and revolutionize old ideas as well as incubate new ones that will propel the industry forward. The founders of the Monarch started with an idea that experts predicted in 2014; that is the power of technology, but more than that, it is the power of meaningful partnerships. We can’t wait to partner with you!