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Smart Mountain-Mule: A Safe Tractor for Steep Hillsides

Award Information

Department of Agriculture
Award ID:
Program Year/Program:
1995 / SBIR
Agency Tracking Number:
Solicitation Year:
Solicitation Topic Code:
Solicitation Number:
Small Business Information
Appalachian Mountain Nursery
Rt. 1, Box 286 Blowing Rock, NC 28605
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Woman-Owned: Yes
Minority-Owned: Yes
HUBZone-Owned: No
Phase 1
Fiscal Year: 1995
Title: Smart Mountain-Mule: A Safe Tractor for Steep Hillsides
Agency: USDA
Contract: N/A
Award Amount: $55,000.00


This Phase I effort will investigate the feasibility of basic concepts for a hillside straddle tractor. A true straddle tractor for tall crops on hillsides does not currently exist. This straddle tractor, the Smart Mountain Mule (SMM), will be designed as a tool for Christmas tree farms in hilly terrain. The ultimate goal of the researchers (through Phase II and beyond) is to design and build a safe tractor with four-wheel drive, four-wheel steering, and a smart tilting system, that is able to tilt its center of gravity to negotiate hillsides and straddle crops such as Christmas trees. The Phase I goal is to prepare preliminary designs for certain key subsystems, i.e. the steering and tilting systems, to build a scale model prototype of the tractor, and to perform a thorough safety analysis. The PI and researchers at TRDC will work with consultants to create a computer simulation of the tilting and steering systems of the mountain tractor. The principal investigator, a professional tree farmer and expert in the requirements of a tree-farming tractor, will create the scale model prototypes using the computer simulation as a guide. Since studies have shown that more than 70% of tractor roll-over injuries and deaths occur on slopes, safety analysis will be crucial in every step of the design.

Principal Investigator:


Business Contact:

Mr. Buddy B. Sexton
Small Business Information at Submission:

Appalachian Mountain Nursery
Rt. 1, Box 286 Blowing Rock, NC 28605

Number of Employees: N/A
Woman-Owned: No
Minority-Owned: No
HUBZone-Owned: No