- Construction equipment manufacturer Deere & Co. has announced the companies selected for its 2021 cohort of its Startup Collaborator program. Among the startups is Teleo, a company that retrofits construction equipment for remote operation.
- The yearlong program allows startups to team with Deere to test new technologies with customers and dealers without forming a formal business relationship.
- Autonomous construction equipment isn’t a new concept but its use is growing in the industry.
Teleo has developed a system for retrofitting existing machinery — such as earth movers from companies like Caterpillar — that allows operators to drive and use the equipment from a remote location. The operations center is provided by Teleo, according to the startup’s site, and can be close to the jobsite, the office or where the operators live.
The advantage, Teleo said, is increased productivity, as operators can switch between machinery on site rapidly. Additionally, the site is safer because fewer workers are there, and no operator is physically present, the firm said. The project is viewed through cameras from a remote location.
Autonomous construction equipment isn’t a new idea, but has become far more commonplace in recent years. Last February, Built Robotics offered the first commercially available autonomous and remote-controlled construction machinery. Those machines are keyboard operated, whereas the machinery retrofitted by Teleo uses joystick-style controls.
Additional startups chosen for Deere’s 2021 program include:
- Nori, which is building a marketplace where all types of consumers — from individuals to large corporations — can purchase carbon credits directly from farmers.
- NVision Ag, which is helping corn farmers make nitrogen management decisions based on data modeling and aerial imaging.
- Scanit, which provides physical detection and classification of airborne plant pathogens before widespread disease onset.