The Minn-Dak Farmers Cooperative, owned by sugar beet growers in North Dakota and Minnesota, has become the first in the United States to deploy fully autonomous trailer trucks for the transportation of sugar beets.
The cooperative collaborated with Florida-based military company Kratos Defense to implement the innovative slave-follower system in their existing fleet of trucks, as reported by the American medium Agweek.
How it Works
Utilizing Kratos Defense technology, the system operates on a slave-follower model, where a manned truck leads and another truck autonomously follows its movements.
The trucks can seamlessly transition from autonomous to conventional driving modes. Upon arrival at the beet plant, the driver maneuvers to a dumping platform, unloads the cargo, and drives away. The driver can then manually operate the follower truck to position it on the platform. After unloading, the trucks can be electronically reconnected and resume autonomous operation.
The autonomous system is designed for hauls of 200 miles or less, with Minn-Dak’s longest one-way trip being under 40 miles and covering a very limited number of routes.