John Deere Announces 2023 Startup Collaborators to Develop Autonomous Agricultural Equipment

Deere & Co. named eight companies developing a range of technologies for smart farming and construction.

John Deere

Deere is expanding its technology partnerships as it adds autonomy to farm equipment such as its 8R tractor.
John Deere said this year's group of eight companies in its Startup Collaborator program will help its agricultural and construction technology be more autonomous and precise.

At CES last year, Deere & Co. made headlines with its announcement of an autonomous tractor. Last week, the company named eight companies that it chose for its 2023 Startup Collaborator program. John Deere launched the program in 2019, and it expects particpants to help it enhance precision technology in agriculture and construction equipment.

“This year's group shows the importance of connecting with the startup community across a broad range of applications and technologies,” stated Julian Sanchez, director of emerging technology at John Deere. “These connections help John Deere better understand opportunities to advance precision technology in agriculture and construction.”

Deere & Co. said its agricultural, turf, construction, and forestry equipment includes the John Deere Autonomous 8R Tractor, See & Spray, and E-Power Backhoe. At this year's CES, it announced its ExactShot fertilizer robot.

The Moline, Ill.-based company also provides financial services through John Deere Financial.

Deere partners bring sensing, data, AI expertise

The eight companies participating in the 2023 Startup Collaborator include:

  • Albedo, a startup developing low-flying satellites to collect visible and thermal imagery at ultra-high resolution
  • ANELLO Photonics, whose Silicon Photonics Optical Gyroscope, a low-noise and low-drift optical gyroscope smart sensor for autonomous navigation
  • GrAI Matter Labs, which said it is building “Life-Ready AI—artificial intelligence that feels alive, delivering brain-inspired chips that behave like humans do,” with the goal of enabling devices that assist humans to act and react in real time
  • Impossible Sensing, which is applying aerospace technology to the agriculture industry to help the world become carbon-neutral
  • IntelliCulture, a company providing farm equipment management software to promote sustainable farming practices through actionable insights, efficiency improvements, and risk mitigation
  • Precision AI, a startup that's creating AI-powered agricultural drones for plant-level herbicide applications at broad-acre scale
  • RodRadar, whose Live Dig Radar technology provides real-time, on-site, automatic alerts to prevent damage to underground utility infrastructure during excavation
  • Vega, which certifies agribusiness sustainability. The startup said it can affect the entire agri-food chain through traceability, risk analysis, and monitoring of environmental, social, and governance (ESG) practices

Deere Startup Collaborator participants

2023 Startup Collaborator participants. Source: John Deere

Startup Collaborator program promotes innovation

“The Startup Collaborator is an exciting way for big ideas to grow into something larger,” said Michele Kaiser, business development manager for the John Deere Intelligent Solutions Group. “As John Deere continues searching for new and interesting ideas, we can add value to our customers – even if we're not sure exactly how that might look.”

“We are trying to help farmers solve big challenges in efficient ways,” she added. “To do this, we need access to a lot of great ideas, so it's exciting to welcome these companies into the 2023 Startup Collaborator cohort and to see what we can learn from each other by working together.”

The Startup Collaborator is now in its fifth year and includes alumni such as Bear Flag Robotics Inc. and Hello Tractor. In 2021, John Deere acquired Newark, Calif.-based Bear Flag Robotics to support the company's autonomous tractors.

In 2022, John Deere also invested in Hello Tractor, a Nairobi, Kenya-based company that connects tractor owners with smallholder farmers through a farm-equipment sharing app.

John Deere’s fully autonomous tractor leverages technologies such as cameras, AI, sensors, and ultra-fast GPU processors to detect and interpret 360-degree changes around them and learn more information to grow smarter with each pass. These capabilities all work to navigate a tractor throughout a field autonomously.

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John Deere

Deere is expanding its technology partnerships as it adds autonomy to farm equipment such as its 8R tractor.

Robot Technologies