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John Deere Ventures into Robotic Farm Tractors

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John Deere has long been a big name in agricultural, forestry, and construction machinery. And their current acquisition suggests that they’re traversing a path towards farm automation.

The American corporation is set to acquire Bear Flag Robotics, a Silicon Valley-based startup that creates autonomous farm tractors. And with a deal amounting to a whopping $250 million, the founders are celebrating the deal, for sure. 

The startup, founded in 2017, became a member of Y Combinator’s Winter 2018 funding cycle. During that time, co-founder Aubrey Donnellan told TechCrunch that their solutions come from actual situations in farms.  

According to Donnellan, the workforce is aging out, and skilled labor is the farms’ central pain point. The workforce is either leaving the US or joining other fields. Whether it’s one or the other, farms need a lasting fix.

Prior to the deal, John Deere tapped the startup for its Startup Collaborator project in 2019. Under the project, the Bay Area-based firm started to deploy its tech to a number of sites within the country. 

John Deere’s Path to Creating Smarter Machines

The machinery giant may be taking a turn toward a more high-tech approach to its products. Given the John Deere history of building a self-scouring steel plow in 1837, the firm has surely gone far and still continues to evolve through time.

In a press release, John Deere CEO Jahmy Hindman said that the firm sees autonomy as a crucial step in giving farmers a boost in resources. Hindman also stressed that the technology would help farms enjoy bigger profits and produce better market output.

John Deere is confident about Bear Flag’s knowledge and skills in providing advanced tech. The firm believes that coupled with Deere’s autonomy express and dealer channel; the purchase is a great step to “address the immense challenge of feeding a growing world.”

According to Bear Flag Robotics co-founder and CEO Igino Cafiero, autonomy can provide a productive and safe way to address the challenge of a dwindling workforce. They believe that farming tech can advance the mission of stepping up global food production. At the same time, it can also reduce food costs through the use of machine automation.

The startup’s team consists not only of tech experts but also those who have had neck-deep experience in agriculture. As a result, they’re able to come up with tech focused on sensors, fusion, and data, coupled with hardware.

Following the deal, Bear Flag will remain in Silicon Valley but will work hand-in-hand with its new mother firm to come up with farming solutions.

The Future of Farming

Over the past year, a lot of robot-tech firms have focused on agri-tech. After all, the Covid-19 pandemic has only worsened the shortage in skilled labor. However, that doesn’t mean that all agri-tech firms have it easy amid the pandemic.

For instance, tech firm Abundant, which created apple-picking robot tech, recently announced their closure. A statement from the firm said it wasn’t able to raise enough funding to continue its product development. This, despite being able to launch a series of good trials in the market.

The event only goes to show that tech growth and fund-raising are equally crucial in agri-tech. After all, growing a robot tech can be quite pricey and would be hard to sustain without enough resources. That said, Bear Flag surely hit the jackpot with added assets from its new owner. 

On the other side of the coin, John Deere also has a lot to gain from the deal. After all, it will help achieve its long-term goal of staying as a major machinery player.

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Business

The Shift Towards Banking-As-A-Service

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The changing times and the pandemic have created a significant shift in how we bank. In addition, our expectations from banks have also differed through the years. The digitalization of the financial services industry has furthered the plan to get free access to banking data. This is in connection with the Open Banking initiative and the dramatic rise of fintech companies and neo-banks.

The market space that the traditional banks once dominated has now given new players the opportunities to compete alongside them. Indeed, the commoditization of bank services has inevitably begun.

A void to connect banks and these new players has been filled in the form of banking-as-as-service (or BaaS for short) providers. It’s only logical that a service such as this emerges. It’s the order next in line to streamline the customer experience and provide products that are built to engage the modern world. 

What exactly is banking-as-as-service?

The easiest way to explain what banking-as-as-service is is through a few examples, these are:

  • Bank accounts
  • Lending systems
  • Credit card payments

The digital world is changing the relationships of brands and businesses with their customers. It is rapidly shifting and improving that even non-bank companies have already integrated financial services to their customers. Established companies such as Walmart, Apple, Uber, or Amazon have already been doing this to add value to their products and services.

Why businesses should take the banking-as-as-service opportunity

To those in the know, banking technology is a complex matter. Developing it from the ground up can be laborious and expensive. Add to that the challenge of getting a bank license which turns off those trying to get in that niche. What banking-as-as-service does is to connect businesses with banks that take care of the requirements and provide the technology they need to provide financial services through a slew of digital channels.

This process will make banking services more engaging and less transactional. Businesses can now integrate services throughout the buying journey without redirecting them to a different platform. This means customers will no longer do the rigamarole of going from one channel to another. They will get what they need when and where they need it.

And statistics show that it is working. Buy Now, Pay Later (BNPL) services are steadily climbing at a rate of 39% per year for approximately 10 million Britons making their online purchases. 

What now for traditional banks?

Since traditional banks have little appetite for risks, they weren’t built to handle the demands for embedded finance. BaaS companies make it faster and easier for fintechs and other companies to increase their offerings by embedding digital banking services directly into the purchase. Instead of seeing this as competition, traditional banks should collaborate with BaaS to benefit from this embedding.

What can Banking-as-a-service do?

With the help of banking-as-a-service, new players in the finance industry will have the capability of targeting niche communities and coming up with slimmer product sets. Also, the solutions that BaaS offers can give valuable insights to businesses on how they can improve their products or services. They will have the much-needed data to learn about industry trends, saving and spending behaviors, and general engagement with their offerings.

All these means that businesses can have more information on how they can improve the overall customer experience. This also means companies can deliver products and services that are more targeted towards the right customers. The possibilities that banking-as-a-service offers are endless in terms of innovation in the banking and financial services market.

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Playrcart Gives You What You Want – Immediately

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We’ve all watched ads and immediately thought, “I want that. Right now.” Some of us wish we could jump right into the TV and into that sexy Ford F-Series quicker than we can have a second thought. But how many of us have gone to make a purchase only to be discouraged by the needlessly complicated payment process? “Too many,” says UK-based startup Playrcart

We believe this is the future of advertising.” 

Founder Glen Dormieux, along with CTO, Richard Mason, created Playrcart born of that very frustration.

What we’re seeing right now is fairly traditional – they’re doing the same thing time and time again.

Currently, when viewing an ad, you have to go through several pages in order to complete a purchase. How many sales are lost in that time-consuming process? “Too many!” say business owners in a Mr. Krabs-esque demeanor. 

How Does Playrcart Work?

Playrcart has designed its platform to convert digital assets into instant transactions within the ad itself. How is that possible? Technology, stupid. 

You can actually make the transaction go directly within the asset itself. So you engage with the ads, you interact with the purchase within the ad without ever leaving that same piece of content.

It effectively dilutes numerous clicks that you normally have to navigate through. The average of reduction clicks is about 75 percent.

With Playrcart, you can watch the trailer for a new Spider-man movie and buy tickets before it’s even completed. You can schedule a test drive in the Ford F-Series as you’re watching a professional drive it on a closed course. 

Consumers will now have the option to purchase something when their emotional response to an ad is at its peak. You can see an ad for a major event and as you’re riding that emotional wave you click and purchase tickets. As the ad concludes, you can emotionally conclude with it – satisfied. 

You can see Playrcart’s technology in action here

Playrcart is capitalizing on our instant gratification society, and they’re doing it with modesty and innovative advances in technology. 

We want to hit them instantly while you’ve got their attention.

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Slingshot Aerospace Launches Communication Tool After Acquiring Stellatus Solutions

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On Aug 18, 2021, Slingshot Aerospace acquired Stellatus Solutions. Initially, Stellatus was a project by the Department of Defense (DOD) Hacking for Defense Program. When they learned the problems faced by satellite operators were true, Holly Highfill and Kishen Ragunath eventually founded Stellatus. But months after its establishment as a company, the acquisition helped Slingshot Aerospace build their new tool: The Slingshot Beacon.

Let’s learn more about the acquisition and what it means for Slingshot Aerospace and the space industry.

The Stellatus Solutions- Slingshot Aerospace Acquisition: A Background

Before Stellatus Solution became part of Slingshot Solutions, Stellatus was a project by University of Chicago students to make communication easier between operators. This project aims to minimize the number of collisions among the 400 satellites in orbit. The number will be 200x more by 2030, with an expected number of 115,000 satellites in space.

At first, the students believed it was a theoretical project. But when they learned that satellite operators had communication issues, this motivated them to create the startup. It didn’t take them a year to get acquired by Slingshot. After all, their tech would be critical for one of their Slingshot Aerospace’s products, the Slingshot Beacon, announced by the startup in Aug 2021 as well.

The launch of the Slingshot Beacon was possible with the data and intellectual property Slingshot obtained from Stellatus. Holly Highfill and Kishen Raghunath, co-founders of Stellatus, are onboard Slingshot Aerospace. Highfill will have the position of Director of Customer Engagement and Strategy, while Raghunath will be Director of Finance and Strategy.

What is Slingshot Aerospace?

Founders Melanie Stricklan and Thomas Ashman know that space-related ventures have boomed over the past few years. Plus, they’re also Air Force vets, so they have more intelligence on the matter, especially satellites.

Not only that, there are communication issues in space. And it’s a problem. For one, it can be difficult to obtain data due to conflict. Plus, satellite operators may face challenges in analyzing data. Moreover, with high competition, the operators can’t get real-time and comprehensive information due to the number of satellites above. And it’s crucial they have relevant and complete information to determine the location of a satellite. Hence, satellites won’t crash.

To solve this problem, they collaborated with David Godwin. He’s a satellite architect, and with his knowledge of satellites, the trio can respond to the current communication problems faced by operators.

What does the acquisition mean for them?

The Slingshot Beacon, the product released in Aug 2021, is their new communications platform. The cutting-edge tech will help detect collisions and provide centralized communication and coordination. Plus, operators will know about maneuvers and other satellite-related functions.

Slingshot Aerospace has also collaborated with Numerica Corporation to help them with data and analytics.

The company got inspiration from the guard channels, which is a frequency monitoring only maydays and calls for help. With this in mind, they can aid organizations in monitoring their space objects and orbits. In addition, it has a few functions:

  • Operator contact info
  • Environmental anomalies reports
  • Alerts for planned maneuvers
  • Ephemeris sharing
  • Conjunction data messages

OneWeb, Orbit Fab, Spire Global Inc., and other companies will have the privilege to try their tool first. With the Slingshot Beacon, operators can communicate in one platform, which will allow them to access data easily. Based on the press release published by the startup, it ensures safety and transparency. Not only that, but it will prevent possible collisions.

Moreover, their tool ensures that data is digestible, accelerating decision-making and helping the public and governments build confidence.

Orbit Fab, in particular, has expressed its excitement over the use of Slingshot Beacon. They’re the Gas Stations in Space, and the tool will help streamline communication for them.

Features of the Slingshot Beacon launched Q3 2021:

  • File sharing
  • Live and historic data processing
  • Collaboration (internal and external)
  • Workflows with automation tools for risk screening
  • Third-party plugins and integration
  • Data capture and upload and download of customer ephemeris
  • Easy onboard
  • End to end security
  • Built-in compliance
  • AWS cloud services

For more news, read more stories here at Owner’s Mag!

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