John Deere is positioning itself as a “world-leading” robotics and artificial intelligence company, and its autonomous offerings will grow rapidly, according to company management.
Deere held the Leaps Unlocked event on May 26 for investors and customers to talk about its technology. John May, CEO of Deere, kicked off the presentations by noting that the days of abundant resources and agricultural inputs are over. Since Deere’s 2020 Analyst Day, May says the company has reorganized the business, centralized technology development and revised capital allocations to direct more investment into differentiated solutions that deliver more customer value.
Jahmy Hindman, Deere’s chief technology officer, says Deere intentionally developed proprietary technology — rather than creating partnerships — because many of its end markets required customization and the company valued the customer experience. The integration of technology with the hard iron and Deere dealer network is what sets Deere apart from its competitors, according to Deere vice president of production and precision farming systems Deanna Kovar.
According to Igino Cafiero, CEO of self-driving technology Bear Flag Robotics, the technology Deere is using to power its self-driving 8R tractor will eventually be rolled out across the fleet doing other work, and it will evolve rapidly and extensively. on the install base. startup acquired by Deere in 2021. Cafiero says Deere has planned a fully autonomous corn and soybean production system by 2030.
“That means spring tillage, planting, spraying, harvesting, and fall tillage are all done autonomously,” Cafiero explains.
To accelerate the adoption of autonomy, Deere plans to include autonomous sensors in the base configuration of the 8R tractor in the next few years. Cafiero says this means a farmer will be able to unlock autonomous operations with just a tap of a screen. Willy Pell, vice president of autonomy and new businesses for Deere, explains that Deere’s goal is to have an autonomy kit on every large tractor that ships.
Deere is shipping its 8R autonomous tractor for tillage, See & Spray Ultimate and Combine Advisor this year. Jorge Heraud, Vice President of Automation and Autonomy at Deere, explains that Deere is also conducting advanced testing with customers on 4 additional products based on Sense & Act technology – 2 for harvesting, 1 for planting and 1 for construction.
The products use custom high dynamic range cameras, advanced computing in the form of rugged processors on the machines, and its machine learning platform. The 3 technologies combined with the large fleet of Deere machines used around the world give Deere the advantage of scale.
“We are able to develop new robotics and artificial intelligence products much faster than anyone else in the industry, and that sets us up to unlock the additional $150 billion addressable market,” Heraud says. “We are now ready to become a leading company in the field of robotics and artificial intelligence.”
Deere also links the autonomy and electrification of agricultural machinery. Aaron Wetzel, vice president of small farm and turf systems at Deere, says electrification will help support self-driving capabilities because all control systems can be integrated electronically.
Wetzel says Deere plans to offer electric offerings in lawn and compact tractors, as well as an electric-powered self-driving farm tractor.
John Deere Operations Center
The Deere Operations Center will become a digital twin of the farm, a dataset that will create smarter equipment and better outcomes for farmers. Doug Sauder, director of product management for Deere, says the digital twin will enable future guidance solutions, as fleet data from tens of thousands of machines will train next-generation algorithms. In the future, Deere will release planning tools that will provide more information on field preparation and the time needed to complete the job.
“The future of the operations center is to supercharge its capabilities with data science and analytics,” Sauder says.
Watch the full Leaps Unlocked walkthrough below.
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