Here it is: Karl, the autonomous robot tractor from the French machinery manufacturer Kuhn. Images had already been circulating on the internet, but now Karl can also be seen live at the Agritechnica trade fair in Hanover (Germany).
The autonomous robot tractor Karl is a diesel-electric powered vehicle on tracks. The field robot is powered by a 175 hp Volvo engine. Karl is equipped with a lifting device at both the front and rear.
There is no power take-off shaft because Kuhn is focusing on electric propulsion for both the tracks and the tools. Electric propulsion can be easily and precisely regulated in terms of speed. Moreover, such propulsion offers good possibilities to react quickly when a rotary tiller or stone burier is blocked by a stone, says David Hild, product manager at Kuhn.
Hydraulic propulsion could be an alternative, but Kuhn expects that in the future, fuel cells or another form of electric propulsion will be the norm. ‘That way, we are already prepared for it,’ says Hild.
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Kuhn has been working behind the scenes on the autonomous robot tractor Karl for some time now, which conceptually has many similarities with the AgXeed robot tractor. The manufacturer has now mastered navigation, but safety is still a point of attention. Moreover, the field robot is only practical when a tool can control the robot using sensors or cameras to monitor the tool. Essentially, the tool will soon become the driver.
Larger or smaller versions are not yet anticipated. Kuhn sees more potential in using multiple units simultaneously for capacity expansion. The machinery manufacturer expects to be able to deploy the first zero series in practice in 2025.