Deere & Co. plans to buy tech startup Bear Flag Robotics and with that acquisition develop automated systems that will enable tractors to operate without a person in the cab over the next year.
“We are effectively in market with real customers today,” said Dan Leibfried, Deere’s director of automation and autonomy.
Deere began working with Bear Flag in 2019, which has been testing automated tractors on farms in California. Its purchase price: $250 million.
Bear Flag’s technology is designed so it can be installed on current tractor models, the company said.
“We retrofit existing machines. We want to deliver a solution growers can use in the short term” to respond to shortages of skilled labor in agriculture, a Bear Flag spokesperson said.