Livermore, California based startup Monarch Tractor delivered its smart tractor, complete with the energy-efficient Nvidia Jetson edge AI platform. The first of six Founder Series MK-V tractors using this platform was delivered to Constellation Brands, a leading wine and spirits producer and beer importer.
The Nvidia Jetson platform provides energy-efficient computing to the MK-V, which offers advances in battery performance.
The debut caps a two-year development sprint since Monarch, founded in 2018. The tractor combines electrification, automation and data analysis to help farmers reduce their carbon footprint, improve field safety, streamline farming operations, and increase their bottom lines.
The MK-V tractor cuts energy costs and diesel emissions, while also helping reduce harmful herbicides, which are expensive and deplete the soil.
“With precision ag, autonomy and AI, data will decrease the volume of chemicals used, which is good for the soil, good for the farmer from a profitability standpoint, and good for the consumer,” said Praveen Penmetsa, CEO of Monarch Tractor.
The delivery of MK-V tractors to Constellation Brands will be followed with additional tractor shipments to family farms and large corporate customers, according to the company.
Monarch is a member of the Nvidia program, which provides startups with technology support and AI platforms guidance. The founders of the firm include veterans of Silicon Valley’s EV scene who worked together at startup Zoox, now Amazon owned. Chief Farming Officer of Monarch Tractor Carlo Mondavi, hailing from the Napa Valley Mondavi winery family added that “the marriage of NVIDIA accelerated computing with Jetson edge AI on our Monarch MK-V has helped our customers reduce the use of unneeded herbicides with our cutting-edge, zero-emission tractor – this revolutionary technology is helping our planet’s soil, waterways and biodiversity.”
In 2021, Monarch launched pilot test models for commercial use at Wente Vineyards, also based in Livermore and in terms of energy usage saved more than $2,600 in annual expenses compared to diesel-powered alternative.
Monarch has raised more than $110 million in funding. Strategic investors include Japanese auto parts maker Musashi Seimitsu Industry, CNH Industrial, an agricultural equipment maker and VST Tillers Tractors, an India-based equipment maker and dealer of tractors and implements.
It recently signed a contract manufacturing agreement with Hon Hai Technology Group Foxconn to build the MK-V and its battery packs at the Mahoning Valley, Ohio, plant.
Monarch has harnessed Jetson to deliver tractors that can safely traverse rows within agriculture fields using only cameras. “This is important in certain agriculture environments because there may be no GPS signal,” said Penmetsa. “It’s also crucial for safety as the Monarch is intended for totally driverless operation.”
Monarch also offers a core of main applications to assist farms with AI, available in a software-as-a-service model on its platform. The tractor collects and analyzes crop data daily and can process data from current and next-generation implements equipped with sensors and imaging.