Besides big companies like Mahindra and Mahindra who are making tractors for big farmers, startup like AutoNxt has built an autonomous electric tractor to help small scale farmers
Bombay based Autonxt Automation has made the world’s first driverless electric tractor. The company which took shape in 2017, was a completely bootstrapped company and is run by Kaustubh Dhonde, an electronics engineer.
According to Dhonde, only 18% of farmers in India own more than 5 acres of land. For those who don’t own land area larger than five acres, it makes more sense to rent a tractor, rather than buying one.
Dhonde says his tractor, called The Hulk, is meant to be shared by communities of farmers who own smaller pieces of land. “The average cost of renting a regular diesel tractor is about ₹ 1500 per acre per hour. However, The Hulk brings this cost down to about ₹ 350 per hour,” claims Dhonde. The Hulk is a 30hp tractor that can run for 150 km on each charge.
“We have built a prototype of “The World’s First Electric Autonomous Tractor”. The tractor is a 30 HP tractor, which mimics any diesel 30 HP tractor present in the market today. The tractor does not require diesel or petrol – it is completely based on electrical charging,” says Kaustubh. The prototype has been built using existing spare parts and vehicle parts. The automation has been built over it. This helps save on the heavy diesel expenses and operational costs.
Kaustubh explains it is also completely autonomous on the farm. The farmer just has to go to the farm and set the boundary using his smartphone or the tablet provided by AutoNxt, or in case where the boundary is not even, the farmer can even drive the tractor around the boundary of the farm.
The farmer has to set its direction and instruct the tractor what kind of work it has to do – for example – ploughing or harvesting or spraying. Once the option is selected, the tractor will start the work, and if there is any obstacle, it can decide whether to press a horn or ignore the obstacle, based on the Machine Learning (ML) algorithms.
Once the job is done, the tractor notifies the farmer, and then the farmer can collect the tractor from his farm. The tractor also has a smart charging sense, meaning it knows how much battery it requires to get to the nearest charging station and accordingly it decides when to stop the work and inform the farmer. It can be charged anywhere as the tractor has a charger on board, which is lightweight and portable.
After debuting it in one of the major agricultural exhibitions – Krishithon last year, the company is in the process of launching the hulk in the Indian market. Though details are scarce about its price and date, we hope to see these tractors up and running in the Indian farms helping farmers save money, time and at the same time remove Indian farmer’s dependency on diesel to till their lands.
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