There are 5 levels of autonomy generally accepted within automotive and off-road equipment engineering circles. The highest level is reached when a machine operates with full autonomy, going anywhere and doing anything an experienced human operator can currently achieve.

“People ask me when we’ll see Level 5 automation in agriculture,” Sabanto founder and CEO Craig Rupp says. “I tell them, we’re doing it now.” 

Sabanto started building its first autonomy kit in late 2019. Now, after closing on a $17 million series A funding round in August 2022, the swarming farm autonomy company has accelerated the process of bringing its product to the marketplace.

What does it take for a small startup company to reach the highest level of autonomy in such a short amount of time? We reached out to Rupp and set up a meeting with his top employee to find out. 

4:00 a.m.

It’s the Friday before Thanksgiving and I’m wide awake 3 hours earlier than usual, preparing to make the 5.5 hour drive from Brookfield, Wis., to Ames, Iowa, for our Day in the Cab visit with Sabanto Vice President of Product Cory Spaetti. 

Once the first cup of coffee kicks in, it’s hard to contain my nervous excitement for the day, not only because it’s my first big assignment as a Precision Farming Dealer editor (no pressure!), but it’s a rare opportunity to go inside the company our sources have been telling us to “keep an eye on” for quite some time.  

7:15 a.m.

About halfway through the drive I stop at an exit for my second cup of coffee. I pull up Sabanto’s website on my phone for some last-minute research while waiting in the drive-thru line. Other than a 17-word mission statement and a team roster with a brief quote listed under each person’s name (“AARR, I’m a pirate” pops up when you drag the cursor over CEO Craig Rupp), there isn’t a whole lot of information to be found, adding even more intrigue to the adventure ahead.   

Read the full article on the Precision Farming Dealer website here.