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Deere Introduces Autonomous Tractor

notice the cab is empty, well empty of people anyway.
John Deere
notice the cab is empty, well empty of people anyway.

John Deere has used this year's Consumer Electronics Show to introduce its first autonomous tractor. Tuesday it put on an hour-long, multi-media presentation showing off the tractor that'll be available later this year.

Deanna Kovar, Vice President Production and Precision Ag Business, says autonomous tractors will help farmers do their difficult, time-consuming jobs.

"I like to think of this autonomous 8R tractor as one giant robot. It goes through the field autonomously, within an inch of accuracy, and is able to perform its job without human intervention."

Farmers can operate and monitor the tractor from their phone, tablet, or computer, and she thinks it'll give them more time - to run their farms and to spend with their families.

Deere's presentation featured Minnesota corn and soybean farmer, Doug Nimz, shown in the video operating a tractor with his phone.

"The thing that excites me the most about autonomy is not being locked in the tractor cab all day. It will just allow me to run my business better because I can just pay closer attention to other tasks. Now I'll be doing the jobs we always wanted to get done but never had time to because we were in the cab all the time."

Nimz says farmers are traditional as a rule, but he believes they'll soon accept autonomous tractors. And as he says, "it will be a life changer for me."

A native of Detroit, Herb Trix began his radio career as a country-western disc jockey in Roswell, New Mexico (“KRSY, your superkicker in the Pecos Valley”), in 1978. After a stint at an oldies station in Topeka, Kansas (imagine getting paid to play “Louie Louie” and “Great Balls of Fire”), he wormed his way into news, first in Topeka, and then in Freeport Illinois. While a graduate student in the Public Affairs Reporting Program at the University of Illinois at Springfield (then known as Sangamon State University), he got his first taste of public radio, covering Illinois state government for WUIS. Here in the Quad Cities, Herb worked for WHBF Radio before coming to WVIK in 1987. Herb also produces the weekly public affairs feature Midwest Week – covering the news behind the news by interviewing reporters about the stories they cover.