A new addition to the world of automated farming will be of special interest to arable farmers.

KUHN has launched its autonomous concept KARL, a driverless solution specifically aimed at arable crop production.

KUHN presented KARL at Agritechnica 2023 to gauge customer feedback on the design concept and to assess if KARL’s attributes meet the needs of progressive crop production systems.

Edd Fanshawe, KUHN’s product marketing specialist for arable and connected services says: “KARL is an autonomous solution dedicated to plant production which we are convinced offers many advantages.

"Field crop production is evolving significantly, with farmers aiming to lower soil compaction and reduce chemical inputs, while maintaining food supply. This focus will likely increase the number of operations, and agricultural robotics can help in a big way.”

KARL uses a hybrid diesel/electric power source with a 175hp Volvo engine running an electric generator. The drive of the tracks and implement is solely electric, which offers a smooth drive engagement, along with the ability to make incremental adjustments to the implement.

The implement has a level of intelligence to detect errors, blockages, and breakdowns by sending an alert signal to KARL if there are issues, something that isn’t possible with a conventional implement with no communication method.

A 2.5m HR 2520 e has been tested with KARL for several hundred field hours, with this width easy to load on standard trailers for transporting between fields without requiring additional licences. KUHN is currently exploring soil engaging and shredding implements, along with additional tools from KUHN’s portfolio, that can be available to KARL in the future.

“Although KARL isn’t ready for commercial production yet, we hope that a five-year timeframe is realistic as more field tests in real-world conditions take place over the next few years. KARL shouldn’t be considered a replacement for the tractor, but a different concept entirely, with the potential to run a fleet of KARL autonomous tools to adapt to different farm sizes and labour restrictions faced by farmers across the world,” concludes Mr Fanshawe.