How John Deere grew data seeds into an AI powerhouse

by | Jun 30, 2022 | Technology

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During CES 2022 in January, John Deere debuted a fully autonomous tractor, powered by artificial intelligence, that is ready for large-scale production. 

According to a press release, the tractor has six pairs of stereo cameras which capture images and pass them through a deep neural network – that then classifies each pixel in approximately 100 milliseconds and determines if the machine continues to move or stops, depending on if an obstacle is detected. 

And in March, the Iowa-based company launched See & Spray Ultimate, a precision-targeted herbicide spray technology designed by John Deere’s fully-owned subsidiary Blue River Technology. Cameras and processors use computer vision and machine learning to detect weeds from crop plants. There is one camera mounted every one meter across the width of a 120-foot carbon-fiber truss-style boom or 36 cameras scanning more than 2,100 square feet at once.

But John Deere’s status as a leader in AI innovation did not come out of nowhere. In fact, the agricultural machinery company has been planting and growing data seeds for over two decades. Over the past 10-15 years, John Deere has invested heavily on developing a data platform and machine connectivity, as well as GPS-based guidance, said Julian Sanchez, director of emerging technology at John Deere. 

“Those three pieces are important to the AI conversation, because implementing real AI solutions is in large part a data game,” he said. “How do you collect the data? How do you transfer the data? How do you train the data? How do you deploy the data?” 

These days, the company has been enjoying the fruit of its AI labors, with more harvests to come. 

John Deere’s long journey towards AI

John Deere’s efforts in developing artificial intelligence solutions are part of a larger trend across the agricultural landscape. …

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