In recent days, Raven Industries Inc. made two acquisitions: Smart Ag Inc., a technology company that develops autonomous farming solutions for agriculture, and DOT Technology Corp., a leader in autonomous agriculture solutions.
Raven said the Smart Ag acquisition is part of Raven Autonomy, its strategic growth platform to become the industry leader in autonomous agriculture solutions. Complementing the company’s Applied Technology division, a leading technology provider in the precision agriculture industry, this acquisition will be integrated into the division’s business and technology portfolio with the intent to create autonomous solutions for the precision agriculture market.
“The acquisition of Smart Ag is part of a bold, company-wide strategy for Raven,” Dan Rykhus, Raven president and chief executive officer, said. “It is a key investment in Raven Autonomy, one of our two strategic growth platforms. Autonomy in agriculture is the future of farming, and this acquisition, coupled with our existing precision agriculture solutions, solidifies our position as a technology leader within this market.”
Along with Raven’s recent agreement to acquire majority ownership in DOT Technology, the acquisition of Smart Ag brings perception and path planning capabilities to the company’s leading technologies in precision agriculture operations.
Smart Ag, headquartered in Ames, Iowa, was founded in 2015 to solve the growing labor crisis in production agriculture. Today, Smart Ag is offering aftermarket retrofit kits to automate farm equipment as well as a platform to connect, manage and safely operate autonomous agricultural machinery. Smart Ag’s technology stack is easy to use and modular for scalability. In addition to its proven, proprietary technology, Smart Ag brings an established dealer network and a skilled development team to Raven.
“Raven’s experience in machine and application control is a perfect complement to the autonomous machine control developed by Smart Ag,” said Brian Meyer, division vice president of Raven Applied Technology. “Together, the expertise of both companies will allow for more operations to be performed in field, with a significant increase in both performance and outputs. By automating existing machine platforms and implements, driverless machines have great potential to complement the work of manned machine operations in the field.”
DOT Technology is the designer and manufacturer of a unique U-shaped diesel-powered platform designed to autonomously handle a large variety of agricultural implements. Through its accurate path planning technology, the platform is able to complete tasks autonomously. In turn, agricultural professionals can make better use of their time and overall operations.
The two companies began working together in May 2018, when it was announced that the Dot Platform would be outfitted with Raven technology, including steering, guidance and propulsion.
“Over the last year-and-a-half of collaborating with DOT, Raven has come to understand the value and uniqueness of the Dot Platform,” Rykhus said. “We are furthering our investment in and ownership of this unique, disruptive technology. By investing in DOT’s growth, we believe we have the ability to lead in the next revolution of production agriculture.”
Through this majority ownership, Raven will leverage the respective strengths of each entity to drive commercialization and adoption efforts of autonomy in agriculture. Raven is the market leader in steering, guidance and machine control technology, while DOT Technology brings field path planning, user control experience, machine safety and remote communication software to this unique relationship. Together, the companies will accelerate the development of precision agriculture technology from semiautonomous to fully autonomous solutions.
“Our majority ownership investment in DOT is clear evidence of our commitment to deliver revolutionary autonomous technology to the market,” Meyer added. “By bringing together DOT’s unique platform with our machine control technology, industry knowledge and OEM partnerships, Raven will be the market leader in autonomous precision agriculture advancements.”
“As a company, we launched the Dot Platform to change farming. Raven has been a critical partner in helping to get Dot to where we are today,” said Norbert Beaujot, owner and founder of DOT Technology and SeedMaster Manufacturing Ltd. “Our combined technologies will undoubtedly help accelerate speed to market and adoption of machine automation.”