“Years ago, crops were watered with hand lines or by praying for rain,” said John Bruce, founder, Robognosis, Ronan, MT. “Then one guy got the idea of running an elevated pipe in a circle. At the time there were the same questions we get with autonomous farm equipment: What if someone parks a pickup in its path? Or a deer runs on the field? Or it doesn’t shut off and floods my field?”
“Farmers drove out to their pivots a of couple times a day. Today’s farmers have dozens of pivots spread throughout the countryside and can control each one from their cell phone. Millions of dollars in fuel has been saved because farmers don’t have to drive out to their irrigation systems.”
“Imagine if the tractor and baler can send a text to the boss at 3:00 a.m. to say the dew point is right and they’re going to work. The farmer can go back to bed while the crop gets baled. That’s where this technology is going,” noted Bruce.
Today there is a newcomer in the business that is one of those relatively new companies that may be ready to challenge the status quo. Although details are scarce due to a carefully controlled roll-out, Bruce said the company is currently testing multiple driverless machines and gathering data. He said he promised his wife they will be running “en masse at some point in 2017.”
“Our goal is to make sure this technology sees itself to the field,” said Bruce. “Our vision is to have the world’s first and best guidance technology for the ag industry. We are there. We are 99% done.”