Automation arrives at MU
Columbia campus becomes first research university to receive new driver-optional tractor
A revolutionary new electric, autonomous tractor is being studied at the University of Missouri in Columbia, where researchers will evaluate its ability to refine agricultural practices and support farmers with disabilities.
MU is the first research university to receive the revolutionary Monarch MK-V tractor, which will serve as an instrumental tool for both teaching and research in the school’s agriculture and engineering programs. The tractor was unveiled at MU earlier this fall.
The new tractor, bought with USDA grant funding, will be used in an MU-led collaboration among research universities across the Midwest, including Lincoln University, Kansas State University and Penn State University. The goals are to explore the autonomous function of the tractor, understand its ability to use artificial intelligence to enhance precision agriculture, and employ it as a teaching tool for classes focusing on developing sensors and control technology for agriculture.
The research team will also work with MU Extension’s AgrAbility Program to learn how farmers with disabilities can benefit from the autonomous technology.
The MK-V is “driver-optional,” meaning it can be operated like a traditional tractor or autonomously. The American-made machine is equipped with cameras and sensors that allow it to be driven remotely. Its artificial intelligence capabilities are designed to collect data and analyze crop health among other features. It runs solely on electricity and will be charged with a biofuels generator on campus.
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