Company Pushes for Self-Driving Tractors Across State

The company is pushing self-driving tractors across the states
Agtech Monarch is set to deploy a fleet of driverless electric tractors to operations across California by the end of this year, making it the first company to deploy autonomous vehicles in the state’s agriculture sector.

Monarch is applying to change California laws that require an operator to be in control of a “self-driving device” while operating, and is introducing its pipeline of smart tractors to vineyards and farms in the state.

According to the company, its tractors offer an economical and low-emission alternative to traditional agricultural vehicles, as well as a safe workplace for farmers.

“The tractor driver’s seat is one of the most dangerous areas on small farms where they are exposed to chemicals, harsh elements and problems with equipment, including implements,” said Praveen Penmetsa, co-founder and CEO of Monarch Tractor.
The smart tractor also has features that allow farmers to detect crop and water stress issues, as well as apply sprays with greater precision and identify potential obstacles in the way, including livestock and workers. The self-driving feature is optional, with the tractors already in use on some farmland without the feature, such as Livermore’s Wente Vineyards, which has been testing Monarch tractors since 2019.

“We truly believe that autonomy is the way of the future in agriculture,” said Niki Wente, director of vineyard operations at Livermore’s Wente Vineyards. “That’s probably a revolution.”

Other companies are also demonstrating self-driving tractors, most notably John Deere, which demonstrated a fully autonomous tractor at the CES trade fair in Las Vegas this year.