Autonomous vehicles may seem like a futuristic concept, but they are closer to reality in agriculture than many would expect. Manufacturers and developers — both large and small — are advancing the technology with plans for these systems to one day become mainstream ag machinery.
Just how they will be implemented, sold and serviced remains to be seen. Kraig Schulz, CEO of Autonomous Tractor Corp. (ATC), based in Fargo. N.D., has spent more than 15 years as a management consultant working with bio-science companies on commercialization of innovative technologies.
After 10 years of research and development, Schulz co-founded ATC in 2012 to develop and deliver autonomous ag technology.
“Autonomy is coming, but most people don't really understand what it means,” Schulz says. “It is more than just steering because we have to manage not just the tractor but the implement. But a computer will not be a farmer on day one so we have to think about beginning an autonomous program as if we have a new, young, hired hand on the farm that needs training. What operations will we start with and how will we know the system is getting better over time?”
During the dinner keynote session at the 2017 Precision Farming Dealer Summit on Jan. 9, Schulz will offer his insight on why managing a fleet of autonomous vehicles requires rethinking logistics of farming to be more data-driven than today and more about managing operations than working the field.
Co-located with the 25th Annual National No-Tillage Conference, the 2017 Summit will be held Jan. 9-10 at the Hilton St. Louis at the Ballpark. Among the Title Sponsors making the learning and networking opportunities possible for dealers are CDK Global, Charter Software Inc., Equip IQ, Farmers Edge, Laforge Systems, Montag Manufacturing, MZB, Reichhardt, Western Equipment Dealers Assn. and Yetter Farm Equipment.
For more information and to register for the Summit (discounted for dealers who register prior to Oct. 14), click here or visit www.PrecisionSummit.com. Stay tuned for more updates and speaker announcements. We’ll see you in St. Louis!