John Deere buys robotics company for $250 million

Quad Cities-based John Deere is acquiring Bear Flag Robotics, a Silicon Valley startup that makes fully autonomous tractors for farms for $250 million.

Bear Flag retrofits regular tractors with sensors, control systems, computers, and communications systems needed to operate autonomously. The company’s tech lets a lone farmer remotely oversee a fleet of robot tractors autonomously tilling a field.

Deere first started working with Bear Flag in 2019 as part of the company’s Startup Collaborator program, an initiative focused on enhancing work with startup companies whose technology could add value for Deere customers. Since then, Bear Flag has successfully deployed its autonomous solution on a limited number of farms in the U.S.

The Bear Flag deal comes four years after Deere bought Blue River Technology, another robotics company, for $305 million.

“Deere views autonomy as an important step forward in enabling farmers to leverage their resources strategically to feed the world and create more sustainable and profitable operations,” said Jahmy Hindman, Chief Technology Officer at John Deere. “Bear Flag’s team of talented agriculture professionals, engineers and technologists have a proven ability to deliver advanced technology solutions to market. Joining that expertise and experience with Deere’s expertise in autonomy, along with our world-class dealer channel, will accelerate the delivery of solutions to farmers that address the immense challenge of feeding a growing world.”

Over the next 12 months, Deere and Bear Flag intend to develop their automated tractor technology for commercial production in higher volume.

Previous coverage

John Deere acquires North Dakota-based Harvest Profit -Nov. 16, 2020

John Deere producing 225,000 face shields for healthcare workers -April 13, 2020

Middle Bit: John Deere acquires startup Blue River Technology for $305 million -Sept. 8, 2017