IN the digital editions of Tractor Of The Year, the tractor of the future is being ‘designed’, the one which will win the European award.
No longer a vehicle, but a data incubator connected to the world, a workmate which is comfortable and safe and which very soon will also be able to work autonomously.
All the details and innovations provided by the main European vehicle manufacturers are being studied and the jury’s analysis is forming the identikit of the perfect tractor: a vehicle which, given its characteristics, might be imagined as some way off, but which, on the contrary, many operators have already turned into a reality.
Today, thanks to the growth in digital technologies, we have access to data which brings together environmental, climatic, and land-
related factors. This allows farmers to intervene in a targeted way, making work processes more effective, complying with the due timeframes. The software systems installed on machines in the field return data with which it is possible to track and certify produce from the field through to the processing industry.
Connectivity will be a valuable support also for the technical management of machines, fore-casting their wear and tear for example and so planning the necessary maintenance, and hence a cost-saving process.
There is also a focus on safety as well as on comfort for the driver, through details which are essential for people working in difficult environments. These details are connected to digital mapping of the environment, climate, and type of terrain. Data on which the perfect machine will have to be capable of providing a response in real time, to protect the well-being of the driver.
So, a simple unforeseen summer storm can be anticipated by the direct satellite connection to the cabin, thus changing the work schedule. In the same way climate change, through digital information, will show us other useful information, such as the need to change the pressure in the tyres for example, enabling ideal adaptation to changes in terrain. Finally, all the necessary information must be available inside the cabin, so everything is kept under control, and making it very easy to use.
At a rate dictated by environmental change, among new generation tractors we can find electric vehicles, tractors powered by alternative energy sources, solar or hydrogen.
Farmers must keep an eye on total costs in managing their cost-effectiveness, in terms of efficiency, consumption, and environmental impact. All stages which, if controlled through the technology, can be planned, and hence offer a better vision in terms of general sustainability.
Tractors will not only be connected in order to transfer data, they will be connected to remote consoles also to be able to work autonomously. Artificial intelligence will collect agronomic data from the sensors positioned directly in the field, for example, and the tractors can even have no cabin as there will be no driver.
The next innovation we will see are engines which alternate hybrid and electric systems and semi-automatic tractors which can even be controlled from a smartphone. The self-driving tractor will, in-cidentally, be available in the field before any other conventional vehicle on the road.
In this scenario the tyre industry is operating very flexibly thanks to its research, since the tyre is one of the fundamental components for vehicle performance, in global terms of environmental and economic sustainability.
The dialogue between the tyres and the machines is therefore a crucial point; an example of integration for the new generations of working vehicles are the sensors mounted on the tyre which can communicate to the vehicle the consumption of the tread or the compactness of the soil, in order to vary the tyre pressure and so avoid wear and tear.
BKT, sponsor of Tractor Of The Year, is now facing up to the change, reassured by its own experience but also with an openness to innovation, and is engaged in and proactive towards the best solutions.