On Thursday, John Deere announced that it would acquire Bare Flag Robotics, a Silicon Valley startup that manufactures fully autonomous tractors for farms, for $ 250 million.
Bear Flag modifies a regular tractor with the sensors, control system, computer, and communication system needed to operate autonomously. The company’s technology allows lonely farmers to remotely monitor the fleet of robotic tractors plowing fields.
George Kantor, a roboticist who specializes in the use of robots in agriculture at Carnegie Mellon University, said: He adds that autonomous tractors are especially important because machines are used in so many different areas of agriculture.
While some tractors can already autonomously follow GPS-guided paths, Bear Flag technology completely eliminates people from the tractor’s cab. The company has borrowed development and commoditized innovations throughout the self-driving car industry. Use lidar and computer vision to not only navigate, but also analyze the soil behind the tractor.
“The fact that John Deere is stamping this kind of completely autonomous technology means that it really is coming.”