A US tech company has launched the world’s first fully electric smart tractor that doesn’t necessarily need a driver to operate it.

Monarch Tractor said its latest development addresses the issues of labour shortages, sustainability and environmental concerns in one single vehicle. It is capable of providing 40hp (30kW) of continuous power and short duration peak power up to 70hp (55kW) and will cost $50,000.

With several hundred new customers for the tractor already on order, the company said it had combined electrification, automation, machine learning and data analysis to enhance farmers' existing operations by increasing productivity and safety, plus cutting overheads and emissions.

Praveen Penmetsa, Monarch Tractor's co-founder and CEO, said: “Monarch Tractor is ushering in the digital transformation of farming with unprecedented intelligence, technology and safety features.

“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.

“Hundreds have already signed on to buy a Monarch Tractor and we look forward to delivering a new level of sustainability and efficiency to their existing farm operations."

The tractor has already won the ‘2020 Tractor of the Year’ award in the AgTech Breakthrough Awards, was named one of World Ag Expo’s ‘Top 10 best new products’ and recognised in Fast Company’s ‘Best world-changing ideas: North America, Energy and Food.’

Shipping to the UK and Europe will commence in autumn, 2021.

Key features include:

* Traditional diesel tractors produce roughly 14 times the emissions of an average car. The Monarch is 100% electric and has zero tailpipe emissions. It also serves as a 3-in-1 electrification tool operating not only as a tractor, but with extra storage acts as an ATV, and has the capabilities to perform as a generator in the field.

* It can operate with, or without a driver and uses the latest autonomous hardware and software technology to provide driver-assist and driver-optional operations. It can perform pre-programmed tasks without a driver or an operator can use Monarch’s interactive automation features to have the tractor follow a worker on the job.

* For safety, it has roll and collision prevention, vision-based PTO safety and 360° cameras to keep operations running smoothly and employees safe, day or night.

* It collects and analyses more than 240gb of crop data every day it operates in the field and can work with existing implements as well as next generation of smart implements. Sensors and imaging are processed to provide critical data points that can be used for real-time implement adjustment as well as long term yield estimates, current growth stages and other plant/crop health metrics.

* It has smart device operation via smartphone, or personal device and users receive tractor alerts, updates on current micro-weather conditions, detailed operations reports, data collection, analysis, and storage for more efficient farm planning.