John Deere

Robotics in Agriculture: Defining a revolution in machine productivity

Agricultural production systems have evolved from the 1900’s to become highly efficient industrialized systems. In the US alone, arduous labor that employed a significant portion of the population has transformed into industrialized mechanization that requires less than 2% of the population to provide for the needs of the total population. These high levels of productivity were achieved through mechanization to amplify the work of the individual through increased field capacity (area processed/hour). Recent trends to integrate computers, controls, and intelligent systems technologies have incubated new methods that increase productivity through high speed, precision operations and information technology. This leads to a fertile environment for the next level of system automation. A key element in the next revolutionary transformation in systems productivity will be accomplished through the introduction of field robotics technology. These life-sustaining systems will provide increase levels of productivity but can also lead to systems that increase the environmental sustainability or fit into the the lifestyle of those who wish to stay close to the land. This presentation will start with the current state of technology innovation and will project pathways of how field robotics may take agricultural production systems in the future.


Dr. John F. Reid is Director, Product Technology and Innovation at the Moline Technology Innovation Center (MTIC). Reid has been with John Deere since 2001. In previous roles, Reid has provided enterprise-wide support and coordination of John Deere's development of the technology development process in automated and unmanned vehicle development. Reid is currently responsible for redefining the MTIC as a support network for internal technology leverage and a linkage to the external environment to accelerate innovation for John Deere to support business growth. Reid came to Deere and Company after a 14-career at the University of Illinois where he was recognized internationally for his contributions in robotic applications for off-road equipment. He has 14 patents and more than 140 papers, including 60 refereed journal articles. Dr. Reid received has BS ('80) and MS ('82) from Virginia Tech in Agricultural Engineering and his doctorate ('87) from Texas A&M in Agricultural Engineering.