An exclusive interview with Kaustubh Dhonde, Founder & CEO of AutoNxt Automation, Developer of autonomous electric tractor
In an era where technology is reshaping industries and revolutionizing the way we approach traditional practices, the intersection of automation, sustainability, and agriculture has emerged as a forefront of innovation.
At the helm of this transformative journey is Kaustubh Dhonde, the visionary Founder & CEO of AutoNxt Automation. Pioneering the development of autonomous electric tractors, Dhonde and his team have embarked on a mission to redefine modern farming by seamlessly amalgamating cutting-edge automation with eco-friendly practices.
In this interview, we delve into the insights and inspirations that have driven Dhonde’s commitment to revolutionize the agricultural landscape, fostering sustainability and efficiency through the ingenious integration of technology.
Can you tell us about the inspiration behind starting AutoNxt Automation and venturing into the electric autonomous tractor industry?
Kaustubh Dhonde: The inspiration behind starting AutoNxt Automation was to address the challenges faced by farmers in India. One of my uncles had to sell a tractor which was only 1 year old, so I asked him why he sold the tractor which was working fine.
That I got to know the challenges that most of the farmers are facing in the world agricultural sector is a major contributor to the Indian economy, but it is also one of the most labor-intensive sectors. Farmers often have to work long hours in difficult conditions, and they are at risk of accidents and series health hazards such as exposure to pesticide and extreme climatic conditions.
We wanted to develop technologies that could help farmers to be more efficient while keeping them safe from any safety risk. The automation oof tractor eliminates these risks while the job gets done just like it was with the driver being present on the tractor.
Building India’s First Electric Autonomous Tractor is a remarkable achievement. Could you share the story behind its development and the challenges your team faced along the way?
Kaustubh Dhonde: Building India’s First Electric Autonomous Tractor was a challenging but rewarding experience. Our team faced several challenges, including the need to develop new technologies that are specifically suitable for a high torque machine like a tractor and the need to comply with government regulations which initially were not even clear.
However, we were able to overcome these challenges and successfully are going to launch the tractor in a few months now. The interaction with farmers and tractor drivers has been critical to help us develop this product.
The AzaadE Electric Tricycle has garnered a great response since its launch. What unique features make it stand out in the market, and how has the public’s response been?
Kaustubh Dhonde: The AzaadE Electric Tricycle has been well-received by the public. It is a unique vehicle that offers several advantages over traditional tricycles. For example, it is powered by an electric motor, which makes it emissions-free and quiet. It is also equipped with several safety features, such as a roll cage and a seatbelt.
It is the first tricycle with Reverse gear features, which helps the specially abled people whose lower body is disabled to be self-reliant in narrow roads and while parking their vehicle. We attached foldable table and ice box to make the tricycle a movable shop which enabled a lot of people get livelihood during the covid times and after.
AutoNxt Automation has engineers from various engineering fields. How has this diverse team contributed to the company’s ability to innovate and develop cutting-edge products?
Kaustubh Dhonde: AutoNxt Automation’s diverse team of engineers has been essential to the company’s ability to innovate and develop cutting-edge products. Our team includes engineers with expertise in a variety of fields, including mechanical engineering, electrical engineering, software engineering, and artificial intelligence.
This diversity of expertise has allowed us to develop products that are both innovative and practical. We have different age groups of experts which gives a perfect blend of talent and experience.
With over 35+ man years of research and testing invested, what are some key insights or breakthroughs that you can share with us from this journey?
Kaustubh Dhonde: Over the course of our 100+ cumulative man years of research and testing, we have gained a deep understanding of the challenges faced by farmers and the potential of autonomous technologies to address these challenges. We have also developed a number of key insights and breakthroughs, including:
- The importance of developing autonomous technologies that are affordable and easy to use for farmers.
- The need to develop Electric Power train with high torque that are robust and can operate in a variety of conditions.
- The importance of developing autonomous and EV technologies that are safe for farmers and the environment.
Could you provide insights into the scalability of AutoNxt Automation’s technologies? Do you have plans to expand beyond the Indian market?
Kaustubh Dhonde: AutoNxt Automation’s technologies are scalable and have the potential to be used in a variety of applications beyond the agricultural sector. We are currently exploring opportunities to expand our business into all different sectors, such as the logistics and construction sectors.
We believe that our technologies have the potential to revolutionize a variety of industries and make a positive impact on the world, especially focusing on the off-highway segments where the tasks are redundant and hazardous for human presence.
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