Farm robotics tech firm subleases big Santa Clara office building

SANTA CLARA – An artificial intelligence and robotics company whose technologies could revolutionize farming and food production has subleased a big Santa Clara office building.

Blue River Technology, which is a unit of manufacturing and agricultural equipment titan Deere & Co., has subleased an office building at 3303 Scott Blvd. in Santa Clara, according to a top executive of the building’s owner, Toeniskoetter Development.

“This is really exciting,” said Brad Krouskup, chief executive officer with Toeniskoetter firm. “It’s great to get a company with cutting-edge technology in the building.”

The building that Blue River has leased totals 83,600 square feet and was developed in 2015 by the Toeniskoetter firm, which owns the property.

Technically, Blue River signed a sublease deal with Seres, a China-based maker of electric vehicles that at one point had hoped to use the 3303 Scott Blvd. office building as a launching pad for a major Silicon Valley presence.

Instead, Seres wound up attempting to sublease the space and recently concluded a deal with Blue River Technology. San Jose-based Toeniskoetter Development, as the property owner, endorsed the sublease deal between Blue River and Seres, Krouskup said.

In 2017, Deere & Co. bought Blue River in a $ 305 million acquisition. The deal has enabled Deere & Co. to deploy Blue River’s robotics and artificial intelligence into a widening array of equipment and machinery that Deere supplies.

Blue River’s technologies enable farmers to use Deere’s ultra-modern equipment to zero in on specific weeds to spray and kill off.

This high-tech approach has been crafted to replace conventional techniques of mass spraying of weeds in fields.

In March 2022, Deere & Co. introduced a product called “See & Spray” that has grafted Blue River’s artificial intelligence and robotics onto Deere agricultural spraying equipment.

“See & Spray Ultimate can reduce non-residual herbicide use by more than two-thirds by only spraying weeds in corn, soybeans, and cotton,” Deere stated in a prepared release in March.

Computerized cameras and processors powered by Blue River’s technologies are mounted on Deere & Co.’s herbicide vehicle to zero in on what needs to be sprayed and killed.

“The combined power of computer vision and machine learning” can be used to distinguish weeds from crop plants, according to Deere & Co.

Blue River has amassed a huge number of images to bolster its artificial intelligence and robotics technologies.

“Through 500-plus years of collecting millions of images of plants and weeds across hundreds of thousands of acres, See & Spray is capable of detecting a variety of crops and weeds to provide weed control,” Blue River states in a post on its website .

In 2011, Stanford graduate students Jorge Heraud and Lee Redden founded Blue River Technology. The company at present is located in a Sunnyvale office and research park.

Toeniskoetter executive Krouskup believes that Deere & Co.’s ownership of Blue River benefits both the tech company and the Santa Clara building that’s just been subleased.

“You have a long-time manufacturing company that is backing a Silicon Valley company that has cutting-edge tools,” Krouskup said. “John Deere’s involvement also creates financial stability for the building.”

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