Fifty years ago, the Kubota Corporation, known for its tractors, unveiled the Dream Tractor at the Japan World Exposition in Osaka. At this year’s exposition, they repeated the performance, unveiling an autonomous tractor called the X-tractor. The tracked machine is completely battery-powered and is zero emission. Kubota claims that the X-tractor’s artificial intelligence creates “stable autonomous driving, even on wet paddies and uneven terrains.”
First impressions of the X-tractor are similar to those that you would expect to see in audience members at a theater showing the most recent Sci-Fi flick about killer robots. The tractor has a sinister look to it. It runs on four tracks that protrude from the sides of the main body, which is said to be able to raise and lower in response to the ground it is working. The four tracks have in-wheel motors that allow it to make tighter turns. The tractor is definitely futuristic, and that goes beyond just its looks. With farmers in Japan retiring at a rapid pace, the industry is looking for ways to automate farming. The X-tractor is a part of that response. Its AI tech can account for several factors, including time and weather, to assess what tasks need to take priority of others. It can also interact with other equipment to further increase effectiveness and efficiency. The X-tractor can be controlled, but it is designed to be completely autonomous using sensors, GPS, and AI. It also has a slice of solar panels that run across the top that serve to help power the vehicle and charge the batteries. Yet even with the pending dearth of farmers, Kubota has no plans to put the concept in to production. Kubota isn’t the only company that is working on autonomous farming equipment, but it is the only one that has a tractor that will scare the farm into compliance with its mean looks.