- John Deere has acquired Bear Flag Robotics, a Californian startup offering autonomous solutions to farmers, for $250 million. [Disclosure: AgFunder, AFN’s parent company, is an investor in Bear Flag Robotics.]
- Bear Flag Robotics ‘retrofits’ farm machinery to automate tasks such as tilling.
- This is Deere’s second major automation acquisition in the past four years. It purchased Blue River Technology, a more mature robotics startup, for $305 million in 2017.
Why it matters:
Autonomous equipment will be as transformative as mechanized agriculture, and John Deere has chosen to acquire the expertise and technology to roll it out – starting with Blue River, which it runs as an independent subsidiary.
Read more about AgFunder’s investment in Bear Flag here
Deere first started working with Bear Flag Robotics in 2019 as part of the machinery giant’s ‘Startup Collaborator’ program. Since then, Bear Flag has successfully deployed its technology on a number of farms on the US West Coast, including for large enterprise customers like Church Brothers.
Bear Flag Robotics has proven its worth to farmers by solving a key but straightforward pain point — tillage — making it easy for farmers to adopt technology – something many agtech startups struggle with. It also managed to raise an oversubscribed seed round last year at the height of the Covid-19 pandemic.
This will be the second robotics acquisition for an AgFunder portfolio company this year after indoor ag automation startup Root AI was acquired by AppHarvest in April.