John Deere — yep, the tractor company — drew accolades at CES 2022 with its fully autonomous self-driving tractor. This year is no different: On Thursday, the company announced its new electric excavator and ExactShot, a robotics-based fertilizer system. The two releases saw John Deere win CES 2023’s award for best of innovation in robotics and a nod as honoree for vehicle tech and advanced mobility.
“Why should you care about farmers when they represent less than two percent of the U.S. population?” John May, CEO of John Deere, said at a keynote CES. “You will not find two industries that have a larger impact on our world and all of us than agriculture and construction.”
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ExactShot uses sensors and robotics to place fertilizer precisely where the seeds need them, instead of dropping a continuous flow of fertilizer all over the row of seeds. John Deere says it will reduce the amount of starter fertilizer needed by more than 60 percent — that’s over 93 million gallons of starter fertilizer annually.
“ExactShot uses a sensor to register when each individual seed is in the process of going into the soil,” the company wrote in a press release. “As this occurs, a robot will spray only the amount of fertilizer needed, about 0.2 milliliters, directly onto the seed at the exact moment as it goes into the ground.”
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Another innovation from the tractor company is its see and spray technology, which uses 36 cameras on a massive 120-foot-long machine to pinpoint the difference between weeds and plants — and kill the former without hurting the latter. That reduces the amount of herbicide farmers need by up to 66 percent, and it looks very cool.
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There’s also the electric excavator, which has zero emissions — along with reduced noise pollution and lower costs — without sacrificing power. It’s powered by Kreisel Electric, which Deere acquired a majority stake in last February. Kreisel’s charging technology puts less pressure on the electrical grid.
“Everything we do at John Deere is focused on real purpose and real impact,” Jahmy Hindman, CTO at John Deere, said in a press release. “This means we’re developing technology that enables our customers to provide the food, fuel, fiber and infrastructure that our growing global population needs.”
Julian Sanchez, John Deere’s director of emerging technology, told Mashable at CES 2023 that the reason John Deere is able to continue innovating at such a fast speed is because the company has a list of things farmers actually want and need — and it’s done the groundwork to find solutions.
“I don’t know that we sit around and say, ‘Oh man, how could we beat that?'” Sanchez said. “We’ve got a long list of requests from farmers. We just keep pulling from that list. They said, ‘Hey, herbicide’s great for weeds. Now we want cameras that detect the health of plants.’ OK, we’ll start working on that.”
“If this sounds like a lot of technology, it is,” May said at CES.