Mar 22, 2023
French company testing hydrogen-fueled vineyard tractor

A French company has unveiled a hydrogen-fueled autonomous tractor designed for vineyard work.

EXXACT Robotics showcased the TRAXX Concept H2 at World FIRA 2023, an agricultural robotics conference in mid-March in France.

As the innovative research center for EXEL Industries, EXXACT Robotics is dedicated to developing disruptive technologies, according to a news release. TRAXX Concept H2 is the first of its kind, according to the company.

The vineyard tractor can be outfitted with equipment for tasks that include weeding and spraying. Photo: EXXACT Robotics

“In France and around the world, there is a growing expectation that we will develop agricultural solutions without emissions,” Camille Enderlen, product owner for TRAXX Concept H2, said in the release. “People are looking for zero-emission solutions, so we decided to develop a zero-emission machine.”

The autonomous straddle carrier is built with a full-power fuel cell and high-power batteries that provide up to 35kW. It is also equipped with two tanks that hold just over nine kilograms of hydrogen, allowing it to work up to 12 hours in a row.

Hydrogen offers growers a zero-emission fuel alternative to gas and diesel — an option that is especially attractive as the industry moves toward adopting green solutions. Additionally, hydrogen makes for a lighter, quieter machine that works efficiently and refuels quickly.

“Before we began developing TRAXX Concept H2, we did a lifecycle assessment between electrical batteries and hydrogen,” Enderlen said in the release. “The emissions impacts were very similar. So, we opted to develop the hydrogen concept.”

Currently in the prototype phase, TRAXX Concept H2 will begin testing with select vineyard customers in May, June and July. The goal is to get feedback on the tractor’s safety, user experience and refueling capabilities before bringing the autonomous machine to market in the next two to three years.

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