John Deere releases video of GridCON electric tractor (Video)

The John Deere GridCON electric tractor is interestingly enough not powered by its own batteries, but by a power cable. In 2016 John Deere already developed SESAM: a fully electric 6R-series tractor, in which the engine and fuel tank were replaced by a huge battery package. But although the manufacturer firmly believes there is a future for fully electric farm vehicles such as tractors, the problem with current battery technology is that it cannot supply enough power long enough for heavy duty applications. Hence it developed the GridCON.

The name of the tractor refers to a so-called ‘Smart Grid’ electricity network, where for instance on a farm energy can be supplied by solar panels, windmills and manure digesters, after which the energy is distributed by the Smart Grid network. This energy in turn could be used to power the tractor, using a cable.

The GridCON is fully autonomous, so a cabin is not needed.
The GridCON was developed in cooperation with the German government, the technical university of Kaiserslautern and the German B.A.U.M. foundation, which is involved in all sorts of research projects concerning sustainability.

The tractor operates autonomous and therefore has no cabin. It is supplied with a 1 kilometer long cable (max 2.5 kV/300kW) which rolls on and off automatically. The electric powerunit delivers 100 kW (136 hp) and delivers power to the wheels. In order to power machinery, there is an additional power unit that delivers up to 200 kW (272 hp).

Remote control
The GridCON tractor can be driven to the field using a wireless remote control. Then the farmer can use the computer to tell the tractor what it needs to do and which paths it must follow. The tractor makes sure the distance between the cable and the tractor itself is adjusted according to the operating width. Rolling the cable on and off is done with the utmost precision, so it will never tangle with the wheels or the equipment being used, even when U-turns are made.

The John Deere GridCON e-tractor is expected to be launched in Europe early 2019.
Not surprisingly, John Deere claims the GridCON e-tractor decreases emissions and increases efficiency. But of course that only applies to farmers who are able to produce their own electricity.




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