Indian Engineer makes ‘Magical’ Self Driving Tractor- It can run entire day without fuel

There lies no doubt that Indian brain can do anything once it resolves to. Needless to say, history is the mirror of our unparalleled achievements. History bears the witness of our contributions to  mankind. Remember, not just Zero but also atom was discovered by an Indian saint and scholar-  Rishi Kan. And the Hindi term for atom is kan as well.  

India’s another ‘Kan’ proves- no matter how poor the country is but we are always rich in Science and Technology. We will keep intact the glory of inventions and discoveries.This story belongs to Indian Engineer Kaustubh Dhonde who has invented World’s first tractor that will run for an entire day (Upto 10 hours) without fuel.

Mr Kaustubh Dhonde Credits: Autocar Professional / Omkar Dhas

What is Auto Nxt?

Auto Nxt was set up by Mr Kaustubh Dhonde in 2016. With a talented bunch of engineers in the ranks, they decided to showcase their mettle in the field of automation to bring some improvements in the agricultural industry. Auto Nxt’s flagship innovation is about the self-driving tractor that aims to run without the use of fuel.

With the help of battery-powered set-up, their automation takes the technology to a whole new level. It all started when Mr Kaustubh used to visit his native place in Wai in Maharashtra during his beautiful days as an engineering student. He came to know that his relative sold his tractor because he couldn’t afford to do maintenance because of the health problems the vehicle was causing. Seeing this, Mr Kaustubh took the bull by the horns to change the complexion.

Speaking exclusively to a popular website, the CEO of team Auto Nxt, Mr Kaustubh Dhonde says, “While the high maintenance has been an accepted trait of diesel tractors, farmers undergo serious health problems which were due to the heavy vibrations caused by diesel tractors. Hence, it struck us that an electric vehicle shall be the way and an autonomous mode for it shall be the perfect solution.”

It is well known that improvisations in technology have always erased the setbacks. Traditional tractors have a high operational cost and its efficiency is determined by the skill of the driver. It is certainly not easy to find tractor drivers possessing excellent skills in India. So a team of 10 members decided to install new features such as autonomous kit into the older systems to bring a change. The concept shot into fame this year.

Mr Kaustubh says that it started in January 2017, “with retrofitting a tractor with an autonomous kit back on a rented tractor, after which we went on to buy a second-hand tractor to completely transform it into the electric and autonomous tractor for proof of concept.”

Digging a bit deep on the innovation, Kaustubh said that, the tractor will run for 10 hours which is believed to be in the range of 200km on a three-hour charge. The lifetime of a battery is about 10-12 years with proper maintenance. “The tractor shall be a manual drive electric tractor on the road, and the autonomous mode shall be used only within the farms. The tractor will be able to run for 10 hours with an estimated range of 200 kilometres on a three-hour charge,” he added.

The autonomous function that is installed in the tractor can be used to control a wide range of activities such as ploughing, tilling and spraying when connecting to the tablet via an Android application.

When asked if the farmers will be comfortable with electricity, Mr Kaustubh clarifies, “It consumes about 50 units for one complete charge, and this cost comparison with diesel tractors translates into an operational cost of only 25% of the traditional tractors. Hence, the farmers, rather than having to worry about affordability, shall instead be saving.”

He further adds, “They will also be relieved from the dependencies of daylight, labour availability and diesel price fluctuation.”

Team Auto Nxt believes that the Government will promote their innovation to farmers to use this technique. According to them, “The Government on its part should help the EV (electric vehicle) ecosystem by defining testing norms and raising test infra for off-road EVs & autonomous drives. It can encourage farmers to go electric by raising the slabs (up to a certain consumption level, the per unit cost is quite low at about Rs.4-Rs.6/unit) for the electric bill calculation.”

“We are looking for an investment to build prototypes for our final design and have been able to gather interest from various top tractor companies which we hope to grow into a collaboration soon,” concludes Mr Kaustubh.

(Sources: India Times, The Better India, and other websites)