How Autonomous Tractors Will Change Field Work

John Deere acquires the start-up Bear Flag Robotics, which specializes in autonomous tractors. The agricultural tech giant announced the acquisition of the startup for $ 250 million. The American company, specializing in autonomous agricultural machinery, was founded in 2017.

“One of the biggest challenges facing farmers today is the availability of skilled labor to carry out urgent operations that impact farm results. Self-reliance offers a safe and productive alternative. to meet this challenge, ”says co-founder and CEO Igino Cafiero in a statement. “Bear Flag’s mission of increasing global food production and reducing the cost of growing food through machine automation aligns with Deere’s and we are delighted to join the Deere team. to bring autonomy to more farms. “

Another way to deal with labor costs, by breaking the “one man, one tractor” paradigm

The Bear Flag Robotics website lists 4 ways tractor automation improves agricultural productivity.

  • Tractor automation responds to the labor shortage first assures Bear Flag Robotics. “Automation offers another way for farms to cope with labor costs, by breaking the ‘one man, one tractor’ paradigm. A single operator can manage a whole fleet of self-driving tractors.” the society.
  • It decorrelates the question of the area of ​​farms and the workforce, then explains the company. “With automation, the total area of ​​a farm does not need to be linearly correlated to the people hired,” the company says. “A single operator can monitor and maintain x hectares of land. Agricultural productivity can increase without increasing costs at the same time.”
  • Tractor automation also lowers production costs, says Bear Flag Robotics. “An easy-to-use digital interface combined with remote control capabilities can reduce (agricultural production) costs, improve the quality of work and significantly reduce insurance premiums. Autonomous tractors are also much more efficient than traditional tractors. They can run 24/7, with minimal supervision and can work faster. By increasing operational efficiency, agricultural productivity is boosted and costs optimized. “
  • Finally, the startup insists on the fact that automation reduces work accidents. “About 33% of the farm population in the United States sustains injuries each year, and 3% of accidents result in permanent disability,” the company says. “The most common accidents are caused by tractors. This is why the use of technology and automation is essential when seeking to promote overall farm safety. When people are not physically present on the road. driver’s seat, injuries fall, which means fewer sick days, injuries, etc. ”.

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