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Osaka unveils ‘smart’ tractor ahead of farming conference

Japan is hosting an international ‘smart farming’ conference this year as manufacturers in the country develop leading-edge technology to improve efficiencies in the agricultural sector.

The International Conference on Agricultural Internet of Things and Smart Farming, is being held, April 23-24, in Tokyo.

It comes as Osaka-based agricultural machinery maker Kubota Corporation has unveiled a fully autonomous tractor.

The X Tractor is the latest development from Kubota’s Agrirobo automated technology programme, which aims to meet the challenges in the Japanese farming sector with ‘precision agriculture’.

While an increasing number of Japanese farmers are retiring due to ageing, the average scale of farming continues to grow as a result of the contracting out of farm operations and the accumulation of farmland for efficient management.

Smart farming is seen as a way to address issues including labour shortages and low operating efficiency, while capitalising on Japan’s knowledge strengths in technology, robotics and autonomous vehicles.

The Japanese government has been stimulating smart farming with experiments to test self-driving tractors and other “smart” technologies at about 50 Japanse farms.

“Smart technology has the potential to dramatically change farming,” Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Minister Takamori Yoshikawa told The Japan News.

Kubota has long been at the forefront of agritech developments, exhibiting its first-ever concept tractor at the Japan World Exposition held in Osaka in 1970, offering superior functionality, great driver comfort and easier operability. 

Since launching AGRIROBO tractors in 2017, Kubota has expanded its work in autonomous agricultural machinery.

The driverless X tractor is fully autonomous, with artificial intelligence (AI) using data such as weather and growth rates to choose timely, appropriate operation such as seeding, harvesting or tilling.

It uses 100% electric power by a combination of lithium-ion batteries and solar batteries for zero emissions.  

The four-wheeled crawler is to achieve stable autonomous driving even on wet paddies and uneven terrains and can be lowered or raised in height.

Osaka-based diesel engine manufacturer Yanmar has also introduced a line of robotic tractors equipped with the Smartpilot autonomous operating system and Information and Communications Technology (ICT) that allow them to operate in autonomous and semi-autonomous modes.

 

 

(via Kubota, Future Farming, New Atlas)