Electrical autonomous machinery in agriculture


As a part of a general push to reduce or remove fossil fuels from the transport sector, SLU is performing studies on how to accomplish this in the agricultural sector. The agricultural sector today is heavily diesel dependent and there are no clear predecessor to the diesel-driven field tractor available on the market.

One solution would be smaller (50 kW) battery electric tractors with self-driving capabilities, where the work is divided on several smaller units that can work around the clock compared to one larger tractor that is dependent on the drivers schedule.  Combining battery electric and self-driving technology allows us to use the best parts of both systems while also avoiding some negative parts of battery electric drivelines. The schedule allowed by a battery electric drive suits self-driving systems well, but a driver poorly.

Preliminary results points to self-driving battery electric tractors being able to provide adequate machine capacity at an equal or lower price compared to the conventional diesel vehicle system.


The goals of this work are to study the energy use, work rate, cost and system efficiency of system with different technology choices, system architectures and management strategies.


This is done through discrete-event simulation where a flexible model of a representative Swedish grain farm is developed. The batteries are modeled with the help of Prof. Daniel Brandell’s group at Uppsala University. Cost- and system analyses are then used to calculate and evaluate the result.

Tractor, electric vehicle, autonomy, simulation

Research Group

Project leader

Per-Anders Hansson, SLU

Other project members

Gunnar Larsson, SLU

Anders Larsolle, SLU

Oscar Lagnelöv, SLU

Daniel Brandin and his group at UU

Links and references


Lagnelöv, Larsson, Nilsson, Larsolle, Hansson (2020) Performance comparison of charging systems for autonomous electric field tractors using dynamic simulation, Biosystems Engineering, 194, s.121-137, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.biosystemseng.2020.03.017

Lagnelöv, Dhillon, Larsson, Nilsson, Larsolle, Hansson (2021) Cost analysis of autonomous battery electric field tractors, Biosystems Engineering, 204, s.358-376,  https://doi.org/10.1016/j.biosystemseng.2021.02.005

Additional funding (apart from StandUp for Energy)

Our research in this area is co-funded mainly from the National Energy Agency and from some SMEs