John Deere acquires Bear Flag Robotics to develop autonomous farming systems

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John Deere has acquired Bear Flag Robotics, developer of autonomous tractor driving technology, for US$250m (£180.3m).

Founded in 2017, the start-up develops self-driving technology compatible with existing machinery. The deal accelerates the development and delivery of automation and autonomy on the farm, according to a statement from Deere.

It also supports the manufacturers long-term strategy to create smarter machines with advanced technology to support individual customer needs.

“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.

“Bear Flag’s team of talented agriculture professionals, engineers and technologists have a proven ability to deliver advanced technology solutions to market. 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.”

Deere first started working with the Bear Flag in 2019 as part of the company’s Start-up Collaborator programme, an initiative focused on enhancing work with start-up companies whose technology could add value for Deere customers. Since then, Bear Flag has deployed its autonomous solution on a limited number of farms in the U.S.

“One of the biggest challenges farmers face today is the availability of skilled labour 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, 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.”

The Bear Flag team, which focuses on autonomy, sensor fusion, vision, data, software and hardware, will remain in Silicon Valley where they will work closely with Deere to accelerate autonomous solutions.

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