MOLINE, IL—Deere & Co. is acquiring Bear Flag Robotics Inc., an autonomous tractor startup based in Newark, CA. The four-year-old Silicon Valley firm specializes in unmanned driving technology compatible with existing machines.

The $250 million acquisition accelerates the development of agricultural autonomy and supports Deere's long-term strategy to create smarter machines with advanced technology to support individual customer needs. Four years ago, the farm equipment manufacturer acquired Blue River Technology Inc., a Sunnyvale, CA-based company that specializes in autonomous weed-spraying technology.

"[We view] 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," says 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.”

Deere first started working with Bear Flag in 2019 as part of its startup collaborator program.  Since then, Bear Flag has successfully deployed its autonomous system on a limited number of farms in the United States.

"One of the biggest challenges farmers face today is the availability of skilled labor to execute time-sensitive operations that impact farming outcomes,” explains Igino Cafiero, CEO of Bear Flag Robotics. “Autonomy offers a safe and productive alternative to address that challenge head on.”