When I attended Case IH’s introduction of the new AFS Connect Magnum tractors near Phoenix, Arizona, in January, just a couple of miles away in another field on the University of Arizona’s grounds a different and much more private event was taking place. Regina-based DOT Technologies had one of their autonomous implement carriers there conducting another round of field trials.
Since first being shown as a concept machine a couple of years ago, the DOTs have now been given a more formal moniker: The DOT A-U1 Power Platform.
If you attended any farm shows on the prairie last year, it’s almost a certainty you’ve seen a prototype of the DOT A-U1 Power Platform doing demonstrations or at least on display. And, of course, if you are a regular Grainews reader, you’ve probably read some or all of the features we’ve written about it since it’s public introduction.
But if you’re a producer based in Southern Ontario or that vicinity, you many not have actually seen one of these robots in person yet. Well, you’ll get your chance this fall. The company has announced it will be conducting field demonstrations at Canada’s Outdoor Farm show in Woodstock, Ontario, in September.
“We know that farmers attend events like Canada’s Outdoor Farm Show to see the latest technology – and there is nothing more game-changing in the market right now than the Dot Power Platform,” says Doug Wager, president of Canada’s Outdoor Farm Show.
According to management at DOT, this year will also see the Power Platforms working in the fields of a handful of early adopters in Saskatchewan. It’s expected to be the first year of the commercial launch that will gradually evolve into full-scale availability.
DOT certainly isn’t the only autonomous field machine in development, but it is really the only one that operates on this scale and is well along the path to full commercialization—assuming everything keeps going according to plan, of course.
With autonomous operation representing such a seismic change in the design and use of farm machinery, this could be one of those years future historians will look back on as a time when major shifts began in equipment design, something similar to steam traction engines giving way to smaller, easier-to-use and much more affordable gasoline tractors.
Those same historians might also say, “this is when the species known as the hired farm worker began its extinction event”.
I wonder if that will come to be true. It will take a few years for sure, but it’s looking like a distinct possibility at the moment. That probably doesn’t worry very many people. Given the trouble most farmers now have in finding employees, it doesn’t seem like a job that many people want anyway.