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By 2030, John Deere will replace farmers with fully robotic farming vehicles

john deere plans to automate farming by the year 2030 with robotic equipment

John Deere plans to make only fully automated robotic farming vehicles by 2030.

John Deere’s vice president of automation and autonomy, Jorge Heraud, sees the company’s future as a leader in robotics and artificial intelligence-infused equipment alongside Silicon Valley tech giants. As e-commerce booms, warehouses use robots to fill labor gaps, Naturalnews reports.

John Deere’s fully autonomous 8R farm tractor, driven by an AI instead of a farmer, was unveiled last January.

Deere’s investments in automation, data analytics, GPS guidance, internet-of-things connectivity, and software engineering resulted in the 8R, according to Heraud. Homegrown research and acquisitions and partnerships with agri-tech startups make up this research and development.

Heraud said, “This comes from our realization that technology is going to drive value creation and increase productivity, profitability, and sustainability for farmers.” Computer vision and machine learning make up our AI.

John Deere bought Silicon Valley startup Blue River Technology for $305 million in 2017. When applying herbicides, the company’s “see and spray” robotics platform uses dozens of sophisticated cameras and processors to distinguish crop plants from weeds.

The 8R uses six stereo cameras to “see” rocks, logs, and people in the field to distinguish weeds from crops. The obstacle’s size and distance from the tractor can be determined by these cameras. The cameras send the images to a deep neural network, which decides whether the tractor should stop or keep moving.

Heraud said, “We’ve curated hundreds of thousands of images from different farm locations and under various weather and lighting conditions.” The tractor can see and react with machine learning. This allows the farmer to operate the tractor remotely while doing other things.

John Deere buying agri-tech startups to boost R&D.

According to Jefferies equity research analyst Stephen Volkmann, John Deere’s automation efforts are “very, very, very early in this process.”

The company’s global fleet of autonomous tractors “is less than 50,” he said. By 2030, the company wants row crop farming to be fully autonomous. Volkmann said, “In Wall Street time, that’s an eternity.”

Volkmann noted that John Deere is currently creating value and profits from its well-established robotic automated systems, such as GPS-based self-steering and precision seeding, that can be installed on its manually-driven tractors.

While this is happening, John Deere is aggressively expanding by buying startups that could advance its agri-tech research and development.

In 2017, Silicon Valley startup Bear Flag Robotics developed 8R’s autonomous driving capabilities. For $250 million, John Deere bought it.

Bear Flag Robotics’ autonomous navigation system was used for 8R and can be retrofitted onto tractors to help farmers navigate.

In April, John Deere partnered with GUSS Automation, a tech company that makes semi-autonomous orchard and vineyard sprayers. Tree sizes and spray amounts are detected by the company’s tech.

A month later, John Deere bought Light’s patents and other intellectual property. With additional cameras, the company’s depth-perception platform can improve stereo-vision systems. Light’s platform will be used in future John Deere autonomous farm vehicles.

READ MORE: The time to get ready for robots in our homes is now

John Deere has established a “Startup Collaborator” program to test innovative technologies in order to keep an eye on other developments in the agri-tech industry.

Volkmann stated, “The hope is that they find the diamonds before John Deere’s competitors recognize them and retain them.”

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