Monarch CEO Discusses “Democratizing AI for Agriculture” at NVIDIA GTC

Artificial intelligence, or AI, has been growing at an exponential pace and transforming how we use technology in our lives. Each year, NVIDIA GTC brings together developers, engineers, researchers, inventors, business strategists, and IT professionals for its global AI conference in San Jose, CA. These are the individuals helping shape what’s next in AI and accelerated computing. Praveen Penmetsa, co-founder and CEO of Monarch Tractor, was among them for NVIDIA GTC’s March 2024 conference.  

Engineered for Good 

On March 20, Penmetsa was met with a positive reception for his presentation, “Democratizing AI for Agriculture: Bridging the Digital Divide,” where he explored how NVIDIA’s Jetson platform empowered Monarch Tractor to develop a cost-effective, advanced platform for autonomous ag operations.  

Monarch’s MK-V extends beyond being the world’s first 100% electric, autonomous, smart tractor; it stands as a farming platform democratizing AI, electrification, and clean energy solutions for the global farming and food ecosystem. With the MK-V, regenerative ag practices become a cost-effective strategy for long-term farm and environmental health.  

Innovating Today 

Over the past century, ever-larger, mechanized equipment allowed farmers to do more work while agrochemicals boosted yields with less labor. These short-term gains have come at a great cost. Soil erosion, human health issues, ecosystem destruction, cheap, unhealthy food, and greater economic pressures exerted on farmers have all emerged as part of the price tag.  

Autonomy is a way forward but variability across crop types, implements, and operations has made automating ag machinery a unique challenge. Historically, autonomy in agriculture has been limited to specific use cases; a single solution applied to one operation for one type of farm in one sector of farming.  Moreover, these are mostly integrated into large equipment costing $250K+ and primarily used for grains, corn, and soybeans. Developing a new use case requires programmers to begin anew, each and every time. It’s a time-consuming, inefficient, and expensive process.  

What’s needed, Penmetsa pointed out, is one autonomous platform for every farmer in the world, scalable across multiple implements, multiple operations, and multiple crop types. The sub-100 HP tractor is the most common tractor found on any farm around the world involved in most day-to-day operations. As such, it becomes the ideal platform.  

Monarch Tractor CEO at GTC

We must transform the tractor to transform farming.

Praveen Penmetsa, Co-founder and CEO, Monarch Tractor 

Bridging the Gap  

Up until now, small, sub-100 HP tractors have lacked many of the advanced AgTech features of their larger counterparts in telematics, electronics, or autonomy. Monarch Tractor is bridging this global agricultural tech gap by building a driver-optional autonomy stack that is versatile and scalable across operations, crop types, regions, and tractor classes. In doing so, the MK-V serves a market with the most potential for impact and reach, delivering an affordable, sophisticated product that pairs farmer economics with planet health at scale. 

The underlaying technology in the MK-V comes from NVIDIA. NVIDIA not only provides the cost-effective, highly-efficient computers that power the MK-V, and the server graphics processing units (GPUs) that train Monarch’s AI in the cloud, but also the software ecosystem that allows Monarch to develop AI quickly and with a relatively small team.   

Monarch’s digital tool, Wingspan Ag Intelligence (WingspanAI), allows farmers to get real-time and historical insights into their operations, helping them make efficient, data-driven decisions. Data informs farmers about their machines, growing-related operations, planning, and overall farm management.  

We are the only platform in ag that can help answer the where, when, who, and what across a farm’s operations.

Praveen Penmentsa, Co-founder and CEO, Monarch Tractor 

Monarch Tractor at GTC

Licensing lets Monarch’s technology to be utilized by other tractor manufacturers; all devices utilizing Monarch’s licensed technology sit on Monarch’s digital stack. With Monarch’s open ecosystem, when developers create a service or a new application, they don’t have to build it from the ground up, Monarch’s WingspanAI gives them a platform and unprecedented access to ag data. “Monarch is positioned to be the ‘Android of agriculture,’” Penmetsa says. 

Real World Impact

The MK-V is a farming platform with the potential to be a catalyst for the AI and energy transformation that will power a smarter, cleaner farming future. From maintaining equipment to executing growing operations to overseeing farm management, deploying an MK-V enables fruit and vegetable farmers to rely less on external inputs, elevate labor, improve overall safety, and increase profitability.  

The impact comes with tangible figures. After one year on the market, over 300 MK-V tractors have logged over 13,800 hours, eliminated over 740,000 tons of carbon emissions, and saved farmers upwards of $198,000 of fuel expenses.  

Small farms play a crucial role in our global food ecosystem; they can create healthier, nutrient-dense soils, ensure food security at the local level, and provide a stable, yet diverse global food supply. It’s time to invest back into the world’s fruit and vegetable farms and empower them with a brighter economic and environmental future. Sound ambitious? Just as the idea that everyone could have a high-powered computer in their pocket in the form of a phone was once considered unthinkable, the concept of an electric, autonomous tractor being accessible to small farmers anywhere in the world will also become commonplace.  


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