It has long been the subject of science fiction, promises and prototypes, but now the wait is over – farmers and contractors in Scotland and the north of England now have the chance to put full scale, autonomous tractors to work in their fields.

Due to be launched at next week's Royal Highland Show, the AgBot 5.115T2 is a 156hp dual tracked autonomous tractor, capable of a multitude of field tasks using standard pto powered and draft implements which is now available to buy from Angus-based precision farming specialists, SoilEssentials. It will take pride of place on the SoilEssentials' stand at the show, with in-field demonstration days scheduled for the following week in East Lothian and Angus.

Developed in the Netherlands by AgXeed, the AgBot was launched to the UK market at the Cereals Event, recently, with SoilEssentials as distribution and service partner for Scotland and the north of England.

Gregor Welsh of SoilEssentials commented: “We are very excited to have been given this opportunity by AgXeed. The AgBot is a complete game-changer for farming and contracting customers.

“It would seem like every other week the farming media runs a piece featuring the latest CAD sketch, or stylised image of what an autonomous tractor from one of the established tractor manufacturers might look like. Typically, these pieces are light on detail, long on hype and with vague 'next year' promises! AgXeed has worked away quietly in the background and have now made the crucial leap to full market launch.

“The AgBot can operate implements, such as cultivators and drills etc, just like a conventional tractor thanks to its front and rear linkage and a trusted Deutz diesel engine. The engine is connected to a generator to provide extremely efficient electric power to the drive train and pto. The game changer is that there is no need for anyone to sit in an operator’s seat – a major bonus in this time of labour shortages.”

“Visitors to our stand at the Highland Show will have the chance to see the AgBot, kick the tracks, speak to our experts, and assess how it could make a huge difference to the bottom line of their own farming businesses. Interested parties will also be able to register to attend our forthcoming demonstration days where they will get to see the AgBot in action – it is such an impressive piece of kit, and I would encourage anyone to search AgXeed on YouTube to see for themselves.”

Graham Ralston, of SoilEssentials, added: “I was speaking to someone the other day who likened the launch of the AgBot to the grey Fergie versus the horse – given the innovation in working practice and technology of the AgBot, I think they might be right.”