John Deere, innovator in everything farming, has paved a new way forward for the company. Artificial Intelligence. Deere have the most successful agricultural company and have done since 1837, when they sold the first commercially successful steel plough. 185 years on, their adjustment to the times is ‘every bit as big as the transition from horse to tractor,’. So how do they become as large innovators in the technology industry?
The Facebook of Farming
Facebook quickly became the new Yellow Pages. John Deere is doing the same with the agricultural machinery and technology industry, adapting and staying ahead of their competitors. Deere is testing neural network algorithms to design their fully autonomous tractor, and their technology seriously fits the bill. 6 stereo cameras and advanced artificial intelligence allows the 8R Tractor to perceive different environments and navigate to fields independently, with just a route and some coordinates. The impressive vehicle can initiatively plough fields and sow seeds, all while avoiding any impediments and obstacles. Farmers will be able to control this through a straightforward smartphone app.
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John Deere aims to save farmers money and time by automating a large portion of their workload that would potentially go unkept due to high labour shortages, Artificial intelligence will fill the gap left by the worker shortage and ease the labour of the (averagely aged) 59-year-old farmers. It’s not just a tractor, it’s an investment. Qin Zhang, Biological Systems Engineer for the Center for Precision & Automated Agricultural Systems, explains that most technical issues with the vehicles have been successfully solved, the only concern is snowfall and heavy rainfall that could be clouding visibility for the tractors that are operated by cameras. Despite this, the technology is performing to an outstanding capacity, and despite prices reaching higher than $800,000 for non-autonomous tractors, a subscription-based payment scheme has been suggested for the autonomous. This makes the process a lot more feasible for farmers who will likely trade in/sell older tractors which allow a head start on payments. The precision and time saving aspects of these machines are such a benefit to farmers everywhere who already trust and rely on John Deere equipment to populate their farms, it’s a brand they know and having a reliance on Deere for his technology and repairs would be trusted to be done well.
Artificial Intelligence and Autonomous vehicles are an incredibly impressive and exciting prospect to be so close to, a lot sooner than expected They will no doubt save time, money and lots of effort. Farmers will know the luxury of sleeping through the night and not having large excess of upkeep to complete, and harvest will be exponentially increased. John Deere have invested $600 million in companies, Bear Flag Robotics, and Blue Water Technology. This gives them the ability to work with experts in the field and design an unmanned, fully autonomous tractor with their own agricultural expertise, and expertise from Robotics and Technology companies, too.
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