Heavy equipment makers Deere & Co., better known as John Deere, have forged a strategic alliance with drone-tech startup Kespry, the companies announced Tuesday in Las Vegas at CONEXPO, an international trade show for the construction industry. The deal could prove a boon for sales of Kespry’s drones and data analytics software. It could help John Deere tap into a new, high-tech means of generating sales and profits in construction and forestry, an area in its overall business that slumped in 2016.
Based in Menlo Park, Kespry helps mining, construction and other businesses put drones to work gathering data and images from on high, then using these to decide where and how to cut costs and improve productivity and safety on job sites. Kespry offers cloud-based software and big data analytics, as well as their own unmanned aerial vehicles. A predecessor that does not have its own hardware to offer but does provide sophisticated software and analytics to the same industries, Airware, has a similar partnership with and an equity investment from Caterpillar.
Through the new partnership, John Deere construction and forestry equipment dealers will offer their customers Kespry Aerial Intelligence systems for use on job sites around the world. Kespry leases its drones but does not sell them outright. John Deere offers a mix of leases and sales.