Widespread availability of fully autonomous vehicles in agriculture may still be several years away. But in recent years, companies have publicly showcased self-driving innovations, advancing development to the cusp of commercial production.
A motivating factor for autonomy in ag is the desire by companies to develop smaller, more efficient, versatile vehicles to perform a variety of field operations for farmers.
This was a driving force behind the development of DOT, a new diesel powered autonomous platform, which debuted this summer. The brainchild of Norbert Beaujot, founder of DOT Technology Corp., and Saskatchewan-based equipment manufacturer SeedMaster, DOT is the result of a 3 year engineering effort to create a scalable, flexible farm implement, while also eliminating the driver.
The company unveiled 4 different prototype platforms, which mount to a U-shaped autonomous tractor frame, including a seeding unit, 60-foot sprayer, grain cart and land roller.
We caught up with Beaujot at this year’s Farm Progress Show to learn more about the timeline and target partners to deliver the technology to North American farms.
“It will happen. There’s so much interest. There’s a lot of steps we’re taking. We’re introducing it very aggressively to all shortline manufacturers so that they can develop their technology to be mounted onto to DOT. That will be, long-term, very important. SeedMaster started with those 4 implements, that I talked about because SeedMaster had the luxury of knowing about this device for the last 2 years. So we were able to quickly develop some units we knew we could manufacturer ready for DOT.”
Beaujot added that commercial production of DOT will certainly disrupt the traditional manufacturing model, but in his words, today’s tractor is obsolete, too inefficient and there are better production paths to be pursued going forward.