Agriculture equipment giant acquires Bear Flag Robotics for $250M
By Ryan Ridley
What first comes to mind when you think about autonomy in agriculture? If you answered auto-steer, you likely aren’t the only one, but that’s just scratching the surface.
John Deere is no rookie to automation; the company has been developing autonomous technology for quite some time, launching its first auto-steer system back in 2002.
The advancements from 2002 to 2021 are immense, and farmers no longer need an operator in the cab once they hit the field. But luckily for farmers, that’s not where the innovations quit.
John Deere is aiming to accelerate this type of in-field autonomy and automation on the farm by recently acquiring autonomous technology company, Bear Flag Robotics, for a hefty $250 million price tag.
Bear Flag Robotics develops autonomous driving technology that is compatible with existing machines – you no longer need to purchase brand new equipment to reap the benefits of autonomous agriculture.
"Deere views autonomy as an important step forward in enabling farmers to leverage their resources strategically to feed the world and create more sustainable and profitable operations," said Jahmy Hindman, Chief Technology Officer at John Deere.
The newly acquired robotics company has a faster deployment time than any third-party or OEM system on the market paired with a remote control to monitor the autonomous fleet, 360° situational awareness, and a fully customizable system to accommodate most implement types.
"Bear Flag's team of talented agriculture professionals, engineers and technologists have a proven ability to deliver advanced technology solutions to market,” adds Hindman. “Joining that expertise and experience with Deere's expertise in autonomy, along with our world-class dealer channel, will accelerate the delivery of solutions to farmers that address the immense challenge of feeding a growing world."
Bear Flag Robotics’ autonomous solution has already been applied on a limited number of farms in the United States. The pair began working together in 2019 as part of John Deere’s Startup Collaborator program.
"One of the biggest challenges farmers face today is the availability of skilled labor to execute time-sensitive operations that impact farming outcomes. Autonomy offers a safe and productive alternative to address that challenge head on," said Igino Cafiero, co-founder and CEO of Bear Flag Robotics. "Bear Flag's mission to increase global food production and reduce the cost of growing food through machine automation is aligned with Deere's and we're excited to join the Deere team to bring autonomy to more farms."
Check out the below video to learn more about Bear Flag Robotics.
This article is featured in the September edition of the Farms.com Precision Agriculture Digital Digest – check it out here.