Farmers around the country are struggling to find reliable, seasonal labor. Colin Hurd is the founder of SmartAg, a new, ag accelerator start-up business. They are developing software and hardware that will enable farmers to benefit from internet connected machinery, and fully autonomous equipment. It also addresses the difficulties in finding help. He says the first product they’re working on is a system for automating grain carts, which will eliminate the need for an operator.
"It’s a solution that is saving you the headaches and hassle of trying to find a grain cart operator every year, trying to train someone for that job, and not knowing every day if they’re going to show up to work or not. So, our product basically with the push of a button, will call the grain cart to the combine and allow you to unload your combine onto the grain cart," says Hurd. "With the push of a button again, it’ll send it to an unloading area where a truck driver will get out and unload the cart into his truck."
Autonomy in machinery isn’t new. But Hurd says they’re incorporating several technologies including Smart Horse Power, SmartView, and AAVI – or Automatic Ag Vehicle Intelligence – into their system.
"So if you have an automated tractor, if you have Smart View on your tractor initially for a grain cart, the goal is that next year we’ll release software for tillage," says Hurd. "You can use that same tractor that you’ve already automated, you just install new software that we develop onto that tractor, and then you can automate another operation on your farm."
Hurd says the goal is for a commercial release of the automated grain cart in 2018, and additional products in 2019.