AGCO, CNH Industrial, and John Deere have been locking in relationships with providers of autonomous systems in recent years and applying them to farm equipment. Agriculture is a perfect fit, according to an article in Forbes, as applying autonomous systems to on-road vehicles or most construction applications will require complex systems.
The three ag manufacturers have invested in acquisitions that will enable them to more easily integrate and or develop autonomy into their farm equipment. For Deere and CNH, these technologies may enable a quicker application on the heavy equipment side.
Mining applications, as with agriculture, deals with enclosed spaces easily defined and controlled. Autonomous vehicles from Komatsu and Caterpillar have been performing for years.
But mines are not as widespread as farms, and the Forbes article suggests that agriculture is fertile ground for not only acquisitions but also for startups. One such company, Monarch Tractors, has an open source autonomy system and has licensed its system to CNH for use on its tractors.
The three large ag manufacturers have spent billions on acquisitions in recent years, according to Forbes, including:
Deere: Bear Flag Robotics, LIGHT
CHN: Raven Industries
AGCO: 85% interest in Trimble’s Ag assets.