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Home / NEWS / John Deere acquires machine learning business for $305m

John Deere acquires machine learning business for $305m

by John Bambridge on Sep 14, 2017


Blue River specialises in intelligent crop spraying equipment, which will be used to enhance the operation of John Deere's equipment.
Blue River specialises in intelligent crop spraying equipment, which will be used to enhance the operation of John Deere's equipment.

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John Deere has moved to acquire Blue River Technology, a California, USA-based tech firm involved in the development of machine learning for agriculture equipment, in a deal worth $305m.

Blue River specialises in intelligent crop spraying equipment, using “computer vision” to see the crop and machine learning to “reduce the use of herbicides by spraying only where weeds are present,” according to a statement by Deere.

The deal will also deliver the heavy equipment manufacturer a 60-person office in Silicon Valley, where the Blue River team sits, and where Deere is confident that the mechanics behind technology are such that it can also be developed to apply to “a wider range” of products.

“Blue River is advancing precision agriculture by moving farm management decisions from the field level to the plant level,” said Jorge Heraud, co-founder and CEO of Blue River Technology.

“We are using computer vision, robotics, and machine learning to help machines detect, identify, and make decisions about every single plant in the field.”

John May, chief information officer and president for agriculture at John Deere, called machine learning “an important capability for the future”.

He likened the deal to Deere’s 1999 acquisition of NavCom, which “established Deere as a leader in GPS technology for agriculture, accelerated machine connectivity and optimisation”.

The acquisition by John Deere comes just months after the manufacturer’s $5.2bn snap acquisition of the Wirtgen Group.

In June 2017, the company also agreed to distribute Kramer machines for Wacker Neuson, and in March 2017 was named as the sole global distributor for drone company Kespry.



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