Are You An Autonomy Believer?

Perspective   Earlier this year, I got to hear noted agriculture expert and speaker Lowell Catlett talk about precision technology to an engaged crowd of precision practitioners in North Dakota. As he usually does, Catlett’s presentation wandered from one perspective changing prediction to the next, but one discussion point really struck me.

It was related the advancement of autonomy, and he proposed this scenario. “Twenty years from now, you’ll be thinking back to today and saying, ‘can you imagine that back then, we put a 16 year old behind the wheel of a car with nothing but their wits, a few months of training, a load of raging hormones and told them they could go ahead and drive?’” Looking at it that way, autonomous vehicles don’t seem so bad.

I was thinking about this with the convergence of three pieces of news. The first was Kinze’s demonstration of autonomous equipment bringing in a harvest, which further demonstrated the potential benefits of performing field work with minimal human intervention. Then there was the story that California had approved the use of autonomous cars on its roadways.

Finally, I received an email from Jack Uldrich, a futurist and friend of mine who spoke at the 2011 InfoAg Conference. He whipped up a blog on the five most “unexpected” uses for autonomous technology, all of which made perfect sense. Number one, by the way, was putting older drivers in autonomous vehicles, which I think make tremendous sense, but you can see the full list here.

The more I think about it and see its applications, the more I feel as though we’re going to see it sooner rather than later in ag equipment. But I’m interested in your thoughts: please take some time to comment on the subject below, or click here to take our special autonomy reader poll.

Autonomy may or may not be in your immediate future, but either way this is an exciting time for ag technology.

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