Hydra Design Labs helped Monarch Tractor combine cutting-edge technology and engineering with creative design to rethink what a compact farm tractor could be. The result is the Monarch MK4 Beta Prototype – the world’s first all-electric ‘Smart Tractor’ with autonomous driving option.

Together with Monarch engineers, Hydra’s team took direct input from farmers and ranchers to learn what they needed in a modern tractor. The vehicle needed to be rugged and versatile with a low center of gravity and compact width. Hydra Design Labs led the overall design and CAD phases of the MK4 Beta and handled fabrication of the prototype. The result is a revolutionary tractor that is sturdier, narrower and more versatile than any before it – all thanks to a combination of technology and smart design.

“Working closely with the Monarch team, we were able to leverage the principles of Lean Development and Design Thinking to design the working concept quickly and efficiently. Minimum Viable Prototypes (MVPs) were used to test and confirm packaging and layout proposals, getting valuable feedback from customers to help refine the design.” Dan Sims, Chief Creative Officer, Hydra Design Labs

Smart Tractor

Most traditional tractors have a front engine, but the MK4 Beta Prototype was designed around the front-mounted, removeable battery pack, with a low central electric motor. This design provides better front visibility and performance with a narrow track – perfect for navigating vineyards and orchards. The Monarch MK4 Beta Protype presented the unique challenge of designing a vehicle that delivers on the needs of a driver while also planning for autonomous driving operation. The final design includes features that cater to both operation modes, including slightly angled controls and instrument gauges that improve visibility for a driver, plus a large pillar-mounted display screen for easier remote driving.

The unique roof shell houses the cameras and computer technology necessary for autonomous driving. From top to bottom, the MK4 Beta Prototype was developed with Design Thinking at work – incorporating the needs of the end user seamlessly into the vehicle design from day one. With one eye on sharp aesthetics and design cues that highlight the tractor’s technical innovations, Hydra designed the MK4 Beta Prototype with functionality in mind, both for manned and autonomous operation. The final design represents a new era in agriculture in which tractors are reimagined from a mechanical device to an all-electric, driver-optional smart machine – all thanks to a combination of creative vehicle design, engineering solutions and cutting-edge technology.

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Provided services

  • Design
  • CAD
  • Prototype Fabrication

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