In an era where we’re often talking about self-driving cars on American roads, alongside EVs, it’s useful to think about the corresponding rise in agricultural technology.
Enter the new John Deere 8R tiller tractor, starting at an MSRP of around $500,000.
These machines, report Bianca Flowers and Joseph White for Reuters, are going to feature a package for autonomous operation sold separately.
“In a world with a dwindling number of grain producers and a growing population, Deere and its rivals are developing self-driving equipment loaded with the latest software that is harvesting a new kind of bumper crop: data. All that translates into recurring revenue, something companies like Apple have long enjoyed and industrial manufacturers like Deere hungrily eye,” the duo write.
Part of John Deere’s approach will reportedly include a subscription model for data services that will help farmers understand where to sow, and how to reap.
“The more technology we can develop to allow farmers to get productivity out of their land without having to spend so much money on fertilizer and inputs, the better off everybody is,” Julian Sanchez, Deere’s director of emerging technology, said in a press statement.
As for self-driving cars, one of the biggest obstacles remains the insurance problem.
“Self-driving cars are designed to sense the environment and move safely with little to no human interaction,” writes John Eberst for the Eberst Law Firm. “Even when they become fully automated, drivers won’t necessarily be 100% free of liability. As with any car accident, vehicle owners may be at-fault for a variety of reasons, including failure to upkeep their cars.”
Agricultural technology doesn’t have that problem, because the vehicles in question aren’t driving down busy roads. There on their own isolated orbits around fields and tillable terrain.
So look for advances in harvesting technologies, including new robotic berry pickers, because these types of progress might outpace the universal pursuit of the self-driving taxi.