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Old 10th September 2018, 18:58   #1
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Default Could Driverless tractors revolutionise farming in India?

In addition to driverless cars, efforts are on to implement autonomous technologies in the farming sector. In India, manufacturers like Mahindra and Escorts are developing similar technologies that could benefit the average Indian farmer.

Could Driverless tractors revolutionise farming in India?-escorts.jpg

Escorts recently showcased an autonomous tractor concept. It uses the internet of things (IOT) concept and artificial intelligence (AI) tools developed by Microsoft. Escorts has also partnered with Bosch and Reliance Jio for this project.

In September 2017, Mahindra had unveiled its first driverless tractor. It uses a GPS-based technology to autonomously maneuver itself around the farm and can be operated using a tablet.

Mumbai-based start-up AutoNXT Automation has developed an autonomous electric tractor called the Hulk. It uses cameras and software to navigate around a farm.

According to the company, only 18% of farmers who own more than 5 acres of land can afford to own a tractor. Therefore, a majority of farmers in India prefer to rent a tractor. The average cost of renting a diesel-powered tractor is about Rs. 1,500 per acre per hour. The company claims that renting their electric tractor would only cost Rs. 350 per hour.

Source: LiveMint

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Old 10th September 2018, 20:35   #2
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Default re: Could Driverless tractors revolutionise farming in India?

Can understand electric tractors. However, power supply is so pathetic in rural areas. Also, given the fact that they dont have to travel much far, they are great for having electric drivetrain. But not really enthused about the driverless part. Un-necessary cost.
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Old 10th September 2018, 21:39   #3
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Default re: Could Driverless tractors revolutionise farming in India?

Quote:
Originally Posted by srishiva View Post
But not really enthused about the driverless part. Un-necessary cost.
Not just that, since I come from a rural background; there are hundreds of factors which the farmer needs to take care of. Example:
  • The land near Haridwar in one region has more sand content
  • Another type of land is having some stones etc which frequently damage the tillers and harrows
  • Another type of land you see in the upper Ganga canal basin
  • And the soil type is starkly opposite away from it
In some locations even a Mahindra 475 can manage a rotay tiller, at places even an Arjun 605 faces the hard time and runs at the peak of its breath. I have seen 595 turbo tractors managing the rotary tiller, but ending up with damaged blades due to the stones in the field. The farmer is required on the driver seat; in fact a very experienced one to check the land, soil, weather and a lot more conditions.



I am still thinking even if the designers of driverless tractors even know what permutations and combinations are there, in fact even what the independent variables are in this case; before they go on to design the algorithm for self driving tractor?
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Old 10th September 2018, 22:21   #4
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Default re: Could Driverless tractors revolutionise farming in India?

Interesting piece of information.

Saving one person (operating the tractor) is not what a farmer will be looking at. IMO, a farmer looks to eliminate dependence on those tens of labours, who he needs for many other tasks from cultivation to harvesting, cleaning and loading.
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Old 11th September 2018, 00:02   #5
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Default re: Could Driverless tractors revolutionise farming in India?

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Originally Posted by TusharK View Post
It uses cameras and software to navigate around a farm.
Rains are just over, memories still fresh of reverse cameras blinded by mud. Wonder how would be the design of cameras on a farm equipment that is supposed to work in the mud all day long. Mud sensing wipers perhaps ?
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Old 11th September 2018, 07:35   #6
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Default re: Could Driverless tractors revolutionise farming in India?

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Originally Posted by srishiva View Post
But not really enthused about the driverless part. Un-necessary cost.
Slightly different scenario if you ask me. Why bother with a human in a relatively safer operating environment compared to being on the road. Tractor going about the farm at 30kmph can be automated. Other than you as a driver steering the thing and deciding when you drop those claw bars, there is little else to do. As long as the tractor does not have AI mood swings and decides to crash in to your farm/cattle house, its all good

Turns out those Interstellar tractors aren't so far away after all.
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Old 11th September 2018, 09:36   #7
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Default re: Could Driverless tractors revolutionise farming in India?

As someone who occasionally hires tractors, earth movers, etc in a village, I have to laugh at these smarty pants from fantasy world. The farm sector badly needs technology but most certainly not this type.
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Old 11th September 2018, 09:41   #8
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Default Re: Could Driverless tractors revolutionise farming in India?

Fat chance of this going full scale in India. Primary reason = labour is cheap, especially in rural India.

Driverless tractors could however change the game in the West where labour is very expensive.
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Old 11th September 2018, 10:03   #9
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Default Re: Could Driverless tractors revolutionise farming in India?

Driverless technology would work best where the land parcels are large and homogenous in nature. In our country, the farming plots are fragmented and farm terrain varies. In addition, manpower is cheap. This tech is more suitable for the western markets. I dont see driverless tractors tech picking up in India.
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Old 11th September 2018, 10:24   #10
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Default Re: Could Driverless tractors revolutionise farming in India?

Quote:
Originally Posted by androdev View Post
As someone who occasionally hires tractors, earth movers, etc in a village, I have to laugh at these smarty pants from fantasy world. The farm sector badly needs technology but most certainly not this type.
Spot on!

Majority of the tractors are rented for farm work on a daily/weekly basis. And the owner of the tractor is the one who drives it as well so automating that in India may not serve anyone any good.

Also, the average size of farm land (or a section within one farm land) in India is much smaller than the average farm land in the US/western world. So programming and so on may not be easy and beneficial.

Need is the creator of digitisation and not the other way round.
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Old 11th September 2018, 11:27   #11
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Default Re: Could Driverless tractors revolutionise farming in India?

Driverless tractors are already in place in the US. Navigated by the GPS.
The reasons why it works there are:
1) very large tracts of continuous land
2) very expensive to hire labor

Both of the factors are inapplicable to India
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Old 11th September 2018, 13:49   #12
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Default Re: Could Driverless tractors revolutionise farming in India?

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Originally Posted by alpha1 View Post
Driverless tractors are already in place in the US. Navigated by the GPS.
The reasons why it works there are:
1) very large tracts of continuous land
2) very expensive to hire labor

Both of the factors are inapplicable to India
That was my very first thought/reaction as well.

I am no farmer, but I find it very hard to believe that driverless tractors would find much enthusiasm from the local farmers.

Also, the way they mention very casually that you can operate it through a tablet suggest these whizz kids that came up with this idea never visited rural India yet.

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Old 11th September 2018, 14:20   #13
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Default Re: Could Driverless tractors revolutionise farming in India?

A startup based in Mumbai is combining the autonomous and electric drivetrain parts for the tractor. They already have a running prototype which was demoed as early as April 2018. Here is the video

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Old 11th September 2018, 15:04   #14
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Default Re: Could Driverless tractors revolutionise farming in India?

Quote:
Originally Posted by TusharK View Post
In India, manufacturers like Mahindra and Escorts are developing similar technologies that could benefit the average Indian farmer.

..developed by Microsoft. Escorts has also partnered with Bosch and Reliance Jio for this project.

Mumbai-based start-up AutoNXT Automation...
There is zero chance of any of the companies mentioned to have enough competency to create something meaningful, valuable.

Quote:
Originally Posted by srishiva View Post
Can understand electric tractors. However, power supply is so pathetic in rural areas.
For now.

Quote:
But not really enthused about the driverless part. Un-necessary cost.
One time set-up cost in software. The degree of unnecessary-ness will be validated by its usefulness, if it ever comes out.

Quote:
Originally Posted by VKumar View Post
Not just that, since I come from a rural background; there are hundreds of factors which the farmer needs to take care of. Example:
  • The land near Haridwar in one region has more sand content
  • Another type of land is having some stones etc which frequently damage the tillers and harrows
  • Another type of land you see in the upper Ganga canal basin
  • And the soil type is starkly opposite away from it
In some locations even a Mahindra 475 can manage a rotay tiller, at places even an Arjun 605 faces the hard time and runs at the peak of its breath. I have seen 595 turbo tractors managing the rotary tiller, but ending up with damaged blades due to the stones in the field. The farmer is required on the driver seat; in fact a very experienced one to check the land, soil, weather and a lot more conditions.



I am still thinking even if the designers of driverless tractors even know what permutations and combinations are there, in fact even what the independent variables are in this case; before they go on to design the algorithm for self driving tractor?
Well, that's how problem solving works. You first start with a solution that works on the low hanging fruit, and slowly gather data and delve deeper into solving the more complex situations.
Most land by volume is flat. It needs similar usage of equipment and machinery. The soil types are just data points. The use can be adjusted where required. Irregular terrain? Maybe you'd always need a human to take care of that problem.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Thermodynamics View Post
Rains are just over, memories still fresh of reverse cameras blinded by mud. Wonder how would be the design of cameras on a farm equipment that is supposed to work in the mud all day long. Mud sensing wipers perhaps ?
Well, the visible part of the EM spectrum is only a tiny fraction of what a camera can see, and a camera is a small part in an overall guidance system.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Rahul Bhalgat View Post
Saving one person (operating the tractor) is not what a farmer will be looking at. IMO, a farmer looks to eliminate dependence on those tens of labours, who he needs for many other tasks from cultivation to harvesting, cleaning and loading.
Quote:
Originally Posted by GTO View Post
Fat chance of this going full scale in India. Primary reason = labour is cheap, especially in rural India.
Driverless tractors could however change the game in the West where labour is very expensive.
It is surprising how everyone is just looking at the cost. Where's the skill question? Won't you happily pay more for a better driver? There's skill involved in tilling farmland. That skill is a rare sight these days.

Quote:
Originally Posted by androdev View Post
As someone who occasionally hires tractors, earth movers, etc in a village, I have to laugh at these smarty pants from fantasy world. The farm sector badly needs technology but most certainly not this type.
What technologies do you see the need for currently?

Quote:
Originally Posted by mtnrajdeep View Post
A startup based in Mumbai is combining the autonomous and electric drivetrain parts for the tractor. They already have a running prototype which was demoed as early as April 2018.
Oh, come on. A high school project could demo better "autonomy".

Last edited by ach1lles : 11th September 2018 at 15:18.
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Old 11th September 2018, 15:16   #15
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Default Re: Could Driverless tractors revolutionise farming in India?

Lets hope that they atleast come with rear reflectors or lights of some sort.They're so hard to spot on the road during night.
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