Visitors to the Highland show had the opportunity to get up close with the first driverless robot tractor to be on sale to Scotland’s farmers.
Capable of a multitude of farm tasks using normal farm implement attachments, the AgBot 5.115T2 is a 156hp dual tracked driverless tractor which is now available to buy from Angus-based precision farming specialists, SoilEssentials.
The machine, which took pride of place on the company’s stand at the show, is also scheduled to carry out on-farm demonstration days in East Lothian and Angus later this week.
The company’s managing director, Jim Wilson, said that despite the £220,000 price tag, there had been several strong declarations of interest.
“The game-changer is that there is no need for anyone to sit in the driving seat – a major bonus in this time of labour shortages. And when you take into account the fact that one of these machines can work through the night, the investment sounds less daunting.”
And he said that while many of the major tractor manufacturers had revealed concept and prototype models, none were yet available for sale – but the developers of the AgBot had worked away quietly in the background and had made the crucial leap to full market launch.
While some of these big companies, such as John Deere were also set to launch in the Americas, Asia and Australia they had had declared that they were not planning to market driverless tractors in the UK or Europe due to the legislative difficulties over where liability lay should anything go wrong.
But he added that with AgBots already working commercially in the Netherlands where it had been developed and in other European countries AgXeed, the manufacturers had, not been daunted by the legislation – and he added that insurance was certainly available to cover the vehicles.
Wilson said the AgBot was only one amongst a number of innovative products and services which the company offered to its customers, from tractor guidance systems to soil sampling services.