John Deere buys autonomous tractor startup Bear Flag Robotics – TechCrunch


On the planet of robotic startups, acquisition is usually pretty much as good an consequence as any. And in relation to robotic tractor startups, you may do worse than being acquired by John Deere. The agricultural know-how large introduced immediately that it’s set to amass Bear Flag Robotics for $250 million.

The Bay Space-based agency, which focuses on autonomous farming heavy equipment, was based in 2017. They first crossed our radar the next yr, as a member of YC’s Winter 2018 cohort.

“We bought a tour of an orchard and simply how pronounced the labor drawback is,” co-founder Aubrey Donnellan advised TechCrunch on the time. “They’re struggling to fill seats on tractors. We talked to different growers in California. We saved listening to the identical factor time and again: Labor is likely one of the most important ache factors. It’s actually arduous to search out high quality labor. The workforce is growing older out. They’re leaving the nation and going into different industries.”

Within the intervening years, John Deere tapped Bear Flag for its personal Startup Collaborator initiative. And the robotics agency has additionally begun to deploy its know-how to an undisclosed (“restricted,” per their wording) variety of websites within the U.S.

“One of many greatest challenges farmers face immediately is the supply of expert labor to execute time-sensitive operations that impression farming outcomes. Autonomy affords a protected and productive different to handle that problem head on,” co-founder and CEO Igino Cafiero, says in a launch. “Bear Flag’s mission to extend international meals manufacturing and scale back the price of rising meals by machine automation is aligned with Deere’s and we’re excited to hitch the Deere workforce to carry autonomy to extra farms.”

Agricultural is one among a number of robotics classes which have seen a spike in curiosity up to now yr, on account of labor shortages that predate however have been exacerbated by the worldwide pandemic. After all, that curiosity doesn’t make anybody immune from the difficulties of launching a robotics startup.

Final month, apple-picking robotics agency Considerable confirmed it was closing up store, noting, “After a collection of promising business trials with prototype apple harvesters, the corporate was unable to boost sufficient funding funding to proceed improvement and launch a manufacturing system,” the corporate famous on the time.

An acquisition looks like an inexpensive consequence for a corporation like Bear Flag. The startup features plenty of assets from its large new proprietor, and its new proprietor provides some new tech to its portfolio. Certainly, John Deere has been fairly aggressively seeking to develop into extra cutting-edge applied sciences like robotics and drones lately.

Bear Flag will retain operations within the Bay Space.



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