Monarch introduces fully electric, driver-optional smart tractor

As a fourth-generation farmer, Carlo Mondavi has seen firsthand the hazards farming poses not just to workers, but to the environment as well. The chief farming officer is part of a team that is combining electrification, automation, machine learning, and data analysis to bring a fully electric, driver-optional, smart tractor to the farm in a single platform.

“Monarch Tractor is moving farming toward a safer, sustainable future by eliminating harmful emissions, reducing the need for herbicides, and keeping workers out of harm’s way with its driver-optional capabilities,” Mondavi says.

Equipped with an electric drivetrain capable of providing 40 hp. of continuous power and short-duration peak power of up to 70hp., the Monarch has a number of key features including:

Renewable technology. Traditional diesel tractors produce roughly 17 times the emissions as the average car, according to Monarch Tractor. The Monarch is 100% electric and has zero emissions.

3-in-1 tool. Not only does the Monarch operate as a tractor, its extra storage enables it to act as an ATV, and it has the ability to serve as a generator in the field.

Driver optional. Because the company uses the latest autonomous hardware and software technology, the tractor can operate with or without a driver. 

An operator can choose preprogrammed tasks that can be carried out without a driver. Interactive automation features, which include Gesture and Shadow modes, let the tractor follow a worker on the job.

“The Monarch’s autonomous features take it from just an environmental sustainability idea to a really higher productivity machine,” says Jim Hoffmann, owner, Hopville Farms. “There are a lot of must-dos on the farm that you would like to see done autonomously and not have to dedicate people to. This tractor can do those things more efficiently.” 

Unprecedented safety. Packed with safety features, including roll and collision prevention, vision-based Power Take Off, and 360° cameras, an operation can run smoothly while keeping employees safe 24/7.

Actionable intelligence. The Monarch works with a farmer’s current implements as well as the next generation of smart implements. Sensors and imaging are processed to provide critical data points that can be used for real-time implement adjustments in addition to long-term yield estimates, current growth stages, and other plant/crop health metrics. 

Through machine learning, the tractor digests data and provides long-term analysis of field health. The longer it runs, the more accurate it becomes. In addition, the data collected is stored in a secure Monarch cloud.

“The farmer’s data is his data, and we will not be sharing it without his permission,” says Praveen Penmetsa, cofounder and CEO, Monarch Tractor. “That being said, we do want to incentivize farmers to collaborate globally.”

For example, Monarch has a research partnership with UC Davis. “If you want to share data with UC Davis researchers working on a specific problem, they may be able to give you a contextual solution that might be applicable,” Penmetsa says.

Smart device operation. Through a smartphone or personal device, users receive tractor alerts, updates on current micro-weather conditions, and detailed operation reports for more efficient planning.

“One of the really unique things on our tractor is the micro-weather station,” Penmetsa says. “We know what the temperature is. We know what the wind speed is. We know what the humidity is. A farmer can use that data to automatically adjust what he’s doing based on his preference.”

Battery swap capabilities. The mobile battery swap cart enables a farmer to change the battery by himself in the field in less than 10 minutes. The cart is priced at $15,000.

Repair and maintenance, Penmetsa says, will also be seamless. Our philosophy is we want to enable the farmers to fix their investment. Through the sensors and data being collected, we can often find issues before the farmer knows something is wrong. Some of those issues can be repaired over the air.

The second option is to work with the farmer to help repair the unit, which can be done through video streaming, among other technologies. If the repair is more in-depth, mobile service and maintenance crews will be on the ready to provide you with a replacement until your tractor is fixed.

Putting the tractor to the test

Manufactured in Livermore, California, the company has secured several hundred working farms as preliminary customers.

“Monarch Tractor is ushering in the digital transformation of farming with unprecedented intelligence, technology, and safety features,” Penmetsa says. “We have assembled a world-class team of farmers, engineers, and scientists to meet today’s farming demands and are empowering farmers by giving them intelligent tools to collect more predictive data to implement sustainable practices, better share their story, and make more money. Hundreds of farmers have already signed on to receive a Monarch Tractor. We look forward to delivering a new level of sustainability and efficiency to their existing operations.”

The Monarch Tractor, named the “2020 Tractor of the Year” in the AgTech Breakthrough Awards and one of World Ag Expo’s “Top 10 Best New Products,” has a base price of $50,000. The machine can be reserved now with a $500 deposit, which is fully refundable. Tractors will begin shipping in fall 2021. Visit monarchtractor.com to learn more.

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