Coming soon to a pasture near you: A tractor with a mind of its own

Minghan Wei sat in a red Toro lawn tractor and typed a few commands into a laptop computer as a handful of engineers looked on.

The tractor didn’t move.

Then, a moment later, it lurched forward, traveling in a smooth line across a freshly mowed lawn at the Toro Co.’s headquarters in Bloomington. It turned left, then right, and circled back to where it began, navigating the yard on its own. Wei, a researcher and Ph.D. student at the University of Minnesota, rode along more as a passenger than a driver.

Minnesota’s latest contribution to farming innovation — the “cowbot” — is nearing completion.

Read more about the "cowbot" and the people behind it in the Star Tribune feature.