This year's CES was huge for John Deere. Located on the lower level of the Las Vegas Convention Center's South Hall within the artificial intelligence (AI) section, attendees had opportunities to speak with Deere's team and see up close and personal intricate technologies today's farmers are using to supply and feed us – from sensors to AI, GIS, GPS, and 5G connectivity. CES attendees previewed what John Deere calls their "interconnected factory on wheels" on this year's show floor. Attendees also saw the'big green tractor' driving around one of the CES lots with advanced automated technology. John Stone (right) is senior vice president at Deere and leads the company's Intelligent Solutions Group.
At 180 years old, John Deere has become a household name that conjures images of farmland, tractors and rural America. But what's less known about the iconic company is that it's become a leading tech innovator in the precision agriculture space, and in many ways, serves as an example of how every business is digital. The National Football League is teaming up with Sleep Number to help its players use big data and machine learning to improve their sleep and boost performance. A year ago, John Deere bought a Silicon Valley-based artificial intelligence (AI) startup called Blue River, and it's now working to incorporate machine learning, deep learning, and robotics into the brains of its farm equipment. The goal is to use automated driving technology, computer vision, telematics, and cloud-based mobile applications to help farmers double or triple their yields -- a feat that will be key to keeping up with global food demands as the Earth's population grows over the next thirty years.
Want to know how pervasive AI is becoming in seemingly all facets of daily life? Just ask Deere & Company. The John Deere brand owner just acquired Blue River Technology, which uses machine learning and computer vision to target herbicide spraying at just the weed-infested portions of a farm field. The technology can minimize both waste and the amount of input needed while spraying, saving farmers headaches and money in the process. The deal involves a $305 million investment and should wrap up later in September.
Eight years ago, John Deere unveiled Farm Forward, an ambitious campaign aimed at adopting AI in all of its equipment to build autonomous farms of the future. They've effectively become first movers in the agricultural space. Tractors would drive themselves and calculate optimal herbicide applications on the fly. Besides machinery, John Deere is developing data-driven practices for farm management designed to increase efficiency. The company's Intelligent Solutions Group believes computer vision and machine learning are a natural fit for agriculture. To that end, the company purchased Blue River in 2017.
Agricultural equipment giant Deere & Co. next summer will debut in farm fields a solution that combines machine vision and machine learning, to distinguish weeds from plants. Agriculture giant Deere & Co. plans to roll out a system next summer that combines machine vision and machine learning to improve the identification of individual plants and weeds. Deere's Jahmy Hindman said neural network models could be trained to only spray weeds in crop fields, killing everything except genetically modified plants designed to survive chemical applications. Said Hindman, "We are interested in being able to manage each plant over the course of its life, minimizing inputs and maximizing productivity." The technology would take pictures of plants, and a machine cruising the field would make the decision to spray in just seconds.