Raven has doubled down on machine autonomy.
The company has acquired Smart Ag, a startup that forged its identity with a driverless grain cart system. Additionally, Raven is now the majority owner of DOT Technology, a spinoff company of Norbert Beaujot, the founder of SeedMaster.
While Smart Ag’s technology retrofits existing machinery to make it autonomous, DOT is a dedicated autonomy concept with a unique power unit that can connect to custom built implements allowing one power unit to function as a seeder, sprayer, spreader, etc.
With its multi-faceted approach to how autonomy will be put into practice, the pairing of these acquisitions positions Raven to drive the opportunity for autonomous solutions into the future.
“Our investments in autonomy are being made from our Applied Technologies Division,” says Wade Robey, Executive Director, Raven Autonomy, and are an extension of our overall strategy in precision ag.”
Robey shares that autonomy is more than a solution to labor shortages, it will also be an important tool to help farmers optimize every acre of their operation. As examples, he says technologies will build on each other including use of current Raven platforms such as RS1, Hawkeye Nozzle Control, VSN Visual Guidance, and more.
“Digital agriculture, precision ag, and machine autonomy will all work in conjunction to be the next big movement in agriculture,” he says. “We believe that autonomy will be deployed differently by crop type and by geography, and Raven’s goal is to be on the forefront of what’s driving the future of ag.”
Robey sees in the near future that the industry will be using multiple supervised autonomous vehicles in the field, and in time that this will extend into the support vehicles, such as tender trucks.
And to naysayers, he says, “the industry will welcome a range of solutions. But as we look at the impact of labor shortages and the demand to deliver more value per acre, improvements in productivity have recently been plateauing. Raven believes that autonomy is the next big step-change solution to alter that trajectory, and to meet the demands on agriculture to feed a hungry world ”