Monarch electric tractor set to rule on Californian vineyard

All electric, driverless tractor to strut its stuff on Californian vineyard

POWERFUL TECHNOLOGY: The smart all-electric Monarch compact tractor is now working in an historic family-owned vineyard in California.

POWERFUL TECHNOLOGY: The smart all-electric Monarch compact tractor is now working in an historic family-owned vineyard in California.


An American tech start-up has developed what it claims is the world's first fully electric and driver optional tractor.


A smart tractor described by its high-tech developers as the world's first fully electric and driver optional machine has started work in a Californian vineyard.

The versatile Monarch compact tractor has been deployed at the historic Wente family's vineyards in California's Livermore Valley.

Fifteen trial deployments of Monarch tractors are planned ahead of a commercial launch towards the end of this year.

CEO of Monarch Tractor Praveen Penmetsa said the tractor had undergone tough testing and was now ready to show what it could do.

Monarch Tractor and Wente have been partners throughout the tractor's early verification trials.

"We've seen first hand the benefits of the Monarch tractor in our vineyards," Wente Vineyards' Niki Wente said.

"Monarch Tractor represents the future of tractors and to be the first customer deployment is especially exciting as we kick off this new era of sustainable farming."

The Monarch tractor combines electrification, automation, machine learning and data analysis in one machine to reduce greenhouse gas emissions while providing a platform for cutting costs and providing tools for better decision making.

Researchers develop robotic apple picker

"We have assembled a world-class team of farmers, engineers and scientists to meet today's farming demands and are empowering farmers by giving them intelligent tools to collect more predictive data to implement sustainable practices, better share their story and make more money," Mr Penmetsa said.

"Hundreds of farmers have signed on to receive a Monarch tractor (which start at a base level price of $US50,000)."

Mr Penmetsa said traditional diesel tractors produced about 14 times the carbon emissions of an average car.

The Monarch tractor was 100 per cent electric and had zero tailpipe emissions. It also served as a electrification tool operating not only as a tractor but also had the capability to perform as a generator in the field, he said.

The Monarch tractor can operate with or without a driver with the company using autonomous hardware and software technology to provide driver-assist and driver-optional operations.

It can collect and analyse more than 240 gigabytes of crop data every day in a field where it can operate with farmers' current implements as well as the next generation of smart implements.

Sensors and imaging are processed to provide critical data points that can be used for real-time implement adjustments as well as long term yield estimates, current growth stages and other plant/crop health metrics.

The tractor's electric drivetrain is capable of providing 30 kilowatts (40 horsepower) of continuous power and short duration peak power up to 55kW (70hp).

"As a fourth-generation farmer I've seen first hand the hazards that farming presents not just to workers but to the environment as well," chief farming officer Carlo Mondavi said.

Co-founder and president of Monarch Tractor Mark Schwager worked with mega US electric car maker Tesla for a number of years.

He said he and his fellow Monarch founders saw the electrification of farming as an untapped space.


From the front page

Sponsored by