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John Deere Acquires Bear Flag Robotics

Chintu Das
Chintu Das
John Deere Tractor

John Deere, the largest manufacturer of heavy agricultural machinery is eyeing robots. The company had announced a few evolutions of its tractors & other equipment in the past, but this week took a big step after acquiring the startup Bear Flag Robotics.

Deere, the most popular tractor manufacturer in the United States, has dabbled with technological advancements. The firm has previously revealed electric vehicle research and has developed autonomous prototypes. In fact, Deere tries to portray itself as a technology business that just happens to manufacture agricultural equipment, similar to how Apple portrays itself as a technology company that just happens to make phones and computers. 

Because of this, it has been able to take a hard stand against the right-to-repair campaign; after all, hacking Apple's phones is also against Apple's terms of service. Despite the company's position that only Deere service shops should be allowed to maintain Deere goods for safety and even environmental reasons, this hasn't endeared Deere to the farmers who purchase its products. 

The company's most recent foray into higher tech was the acquisition of Silicon Valley-based firm Bear Flag Robotics, which had previously focused on integrating artificial intelligence to tractors as an aftermarket component. The cooperation, on the other hand, is aimed at a bigger goal. According to Reuters, the objective is to bring a completely self-driving tractor to market without the need for a human driver. 

One reason for autonomous farm equipment's success, according to Deere, is the agriculture industry's significant labor difficulties. They're also already out in the market.

Bear Flag's co-founder told Successful Farmer that the company's autonomous tractor is "already in the market with a restricted set of clients." 

There's no word on what shape this autonomous line will take, when it'll be available to the general public, or how much it'll cost. 

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