Driverless cars? Make way for driverless tractors
POCATELLO, Idaho -- A company started by a Post Falls seed potato farmer said it will put a driverless tractor on an Idaho field within the next two months.
Farb Guidance Systems' first GPS-guided tractor, which is about half the size of the normal machine and has no steering wheel or seat, will go to a southern Idaho farmer, the Capital Press reported Monday.
"Companies have prototypes out there, but we believe at this point in time we're the world leader in unmanned agricultural equipment," company founder David Farb said.
Farb said his company expects to build 60 tractors this year and has received commitments for 100.
"We think that once these get in the dirt that it will be an explosive-type market," Farb said. "It's pretty hard to say no to it at the cost and what it does for you."
Sensors alert farmers of equipment problems on the tractors, which start at $160,000 and have been tested on Farb's farm. He plans to use the machines in his regular farming operations come spring.
Farb is working with equipment dealers and a large southern Idaho dealership to create a maintenance network. He also is looking at partnering with Idaho State University on research.
Technology instructor Darren Leavitt said students could intern in map design.
"How are you going to send an unmanned tractor out to mitigate a problem in the field if you don't have the coordinates for that problem?" Leavitt said.
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