Deere & Company announced Thursday it has signed a definitive agreement to acquire Bear Flag Robotics for $250 million. Bear Flag Robotics, founded in 2017, develops autonomous driving technologies compatible with existing machines.
Deere said the deal accelerates the delivery of automation and autonomy to the farm and supports its strategy to create smarter machines with advanced technology.
"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," saidJahmy Hindman, chief technology officer at Deere. "Bear Flag's team of talented agriculture professionals, engineers and technologists have a proven ability to deliver advanced technology solutions to market."
Deere began working with Bear Flag in 2019 as part of its novel Startup Collaborator program. The Startup Collaborator program works with startup companies whose technology could add value for Deere customers. Since then, Bear Flag has successfully deployed its autonomous solution on a limited number of farms in the U.S.
"Bear Flag Robotics advanced technology is running now," a video released with Deere's announcement explains. "You can see autonomous tractors driving through fields today," the video continues, with images of John Deere tractors running across the screen, performing various, driverless operations.
The video goes on to explain that the Bear Flag autonomous technology leverages a combination of LiDAR, radar and camera sensors, as well as the computer resources "to enable a tractor to work in the fields autonomously, enabling farmers to ... increase productivity and take advantage of remote management solutions."
LiDAR, or light detection and ranging, is a remote-sensing method that measures distances of objects on the earth's surface. Terrestrial LiDAR systems are installed on moving vehicles or tripods to collect data points. In the video, the most prominent piece of technology hardware shown is a crossed-membered metal structure fitted to the roof of a Deere tractor. The video does not explain what it is exactly.
"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.
The Bear Flag team will remain focused on autonomy, sensor fusion, vision, data, software and hardware. They will remain in Silicon Valley where they will work with Deere to accelerate the development of autonomy products for Deere customers across the world.
For more information about Bear Flag Robotics go to: www.BearFlagRobotics.com.
Dan Miller can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
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