New Holland and Bluewhite expand partnership for autonomous tractors

Bluewhite offers systems to retrofit New Holland tractors while retaining a manual override. | Credit: Bluewhite

New Holland and Bluewhite this week announced a multi-phase partnership to collaborate on distribution, manufacturing, and integration of Bluewhite’s autonomy technology with New Holland tractors in North America. The companies said the partnership will enable New Holland tractors to operate fully autonomously in orchards, vineyards, and other specialty crop operations.

“Bluewhite has proven to be the leader in terms of implementing autonomy in the specialty crops space, a market in great demand for this type of innovation,” stated Carlo Lambro, brand president of New Holland. “The integration of Bluewhite into our technology stack allows our customers to access much-needed autonomous technology in an attainable aftermarket solution.”

“With our leadership position in specialty crops, the partnership with Bluewhite complements our mission to continue to better serve our customers, elevate their capabilities, and bring more autonomy to their operations,” he said.

For over 125 years, New Holland has provided a range of agricultural and light construction equipment. The company, which has offices in Turin, Italy, and New Holland, Pa., said it uses the latest alternative fuel technology to be a sector leader in sustainability. New Holland, a brand of CNH Industrial N.V., has a global dealer network for sales and support.

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Bluewhite brings autonomy to different tractors, crops

Ben Alfi, Yair Shahar, and Aviram Shmueli, founded Bluewhite, formerly Blue White Robotics, in 2017. The company, which is headquartered in Tel Aviv with offices in Fresno, Calif., has built an automation platform that includes all of the perception, compute, and actuation to retrofit existing tractors.

Bluewhite works with more than 20 leading permanent crop growers, including CNH competitor John Deere, to enable autonomous farming on multiple crops and tractor models across 150,000 acres in the U.S. In January, the company announced that it had secured $39 million in Series C financing.

“We’re incredibly excited about collaborating with CNH and New Holland to accelerate the adoption of autonomous technologies in the field that not only improve productivity and profitability for growers, but also promote safe and sustainable methods of producing food,” said Ben Alfi, CEO of Bluewhite.

“Our long-term partnership with CNH and New Holland combining leading autonomous technology with the best tractors and harvesters in the orchards and vineyards sector is a milestone in achieving our mission of making cutting-edge innovation accessible to the agriculture sector,” he added. “We have an exciting journey ahead of us and we look forward to working with partners like CNH and New Holland to continue bringing value to our customers and growers everywhere.”

Bluewhite-enabled New Holland tractors operate in a cherry orchard. | Credit: Bluewhite

CNH and New Holland serve specialty crop markets

Bluewhite said its capabilities in orchards and vineyards support New Holland’s aim of bringing autonomous systems to all the sectors it serves, particularly the specialty crop market. CNH recently made several acquisitions, including Raven, Augmenta, and Hemisphere, that are spreading New Holland’s autonomy offerings to row-crop and broad-acre farmers.

The companies said Bluewhite’s technology assists New Holland customers in addressing challenges such as labor shortages and rising operational costs in the specialty crop market. Depending on the use case, they said Bluewhite autonomy has reduced operating expenses by up to 85% in inputs, labor, and maintenance.

“With this tech, we’re not only helping address the financial aspect of an operation by freeing up an operator to tackle other tasks; we’re alleviating some of the biggest pain points growers contend with every day that slow them down during the most critical times in the growing season,” stated Paul Welbig, precision product marketing director for New Holland Agriculture North America. “When a grower is hard-pressed to secure labor or schedules don’t align, a difference in hours or a day can significantly set an operation back financially and agronomically. This technology brings relief to those situations.”

The strategic partnership includes a three-phase, multi-year initiative that advances the development and integration of Bluewhite technology across the New Holland portfolio. Beginning immediately, select New Holland dealers in the western U.S. have the rights to sell, distribute, and service Bluewhites’s aftermarket kits for existing New Holland tractors.

Order writing will begin in summer 2024, with future regional and global expansion to come to ensure broader New Holland customer access. New Holland and Bluewhite are also exploring future possibilities for factory-installed solutions.

Agricultural robotics will be featured in the Field Robotics track at RoboBusiness 2024 in Santa Clara, Calif., on Oct. 16 and 17.

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