Episode 101 - Autonomous Tractors Promise to Transform Farming

Ag tech is poised to disrupt life on the farm. John Deere’s new autonomous tractor uses stereo cameras, GPS guidance, and advanced AI to detect obstacles and navigate in the field. Farmers monitor and control it from a smartphone app. And it can free them from long days in the tractor seat, help ease labor shortages, and improve productivity and sustainability.

Deere also recently opened a tech center in Texas and acquired Silicon Valley startup Bear Flag Robotics and Austrian battery maker Kreisel Electric.

We spoke with Joseph Liefer, Senior Product Manager for Autonomy in the John Deere Intelligent Solutions Group (and a farmer himself), about cutting-edge innovation and the farm of the future.

ICYMI, here’s our podcast with Bear Flag Robotics.

Meet Our Guest

Senior Product Manager for Autonomy, John Deere Intelligent Solutions Group

Joseph Liefer is focused on discovering what farmers will need in their first autonomous products and then working with engineering to develop those solutions. He has held numerous roles over his 16-year career with John Deere, most notably working as a portfolio manager for the global application product line, where he orchestrated the portfolio evolution from North America centric to a global application platform for Precision Ag technologies. Joseph holds a bachelor’s in mechanical engineering from Missouri University of Science and Technology and a global executive master’s in business administration from Duke University.

Our Host


Innovation Strategist & Co-Founder, Brulte & Company

Grayson Brulte is an autonomous mobility advisor and consultant who provides strategic counsel and political insights to help clients navigate what’s next.

As an SAE strategic partner since 2017, Grayson brings his in-depth industry knowledge to host SAE Tomorrow Today. His unique perspective factors in economics, politics and technology into one-of-kind weekly conversations with innovators changing mobility and its impact on society.

Grayson is a thought-leader who regularly provides insights to publications including Bloomberg, Reuters, The Financial Times, Wall Street Journal, The Los Angeles Times, Hollywood Reporter and Forbes. His written opinions and insights have been featured by organizations including the Consumer Technology Association in presentations to the Federal Trade Commission.

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