In the US, a growing list of agriculture tech companies have developed self-piloting machines. Those innovations have brought with them some major investment: According to venture capital firm AgFunder’s most recent data, farm robotics ventures received a total of $491 million in investment during the first half of the 2021 business year, a 40 percent increase over the same period in 2020.
Then, in January, came the announcement from heavy farming equipment mainstay John Deere that it would be releasing an autonomous version of its 8R tractor later this year. Given that a majority of all farm machinery sold in the US is manufactured by John Deere, its entry into the world of driverless tractors all but guarantees that autonomous tech is here to stay.
Each agriculture tech company offers its own spin on autonomy. In John Deere’s case, the new 8R uses six pairs of cameras and an AI system to navigate without a driver. The system will also conduct real-time readings on soil quality—something made possible by the 8R’s remote control capabilities.