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New Title: The Cutting Edge of Agriculture: Robots Revolutionize Harvesting in Japan

Summary

TOKYO – Smart farming is making significant strides in Japan, raising expectations that producers will be able to entrust the majority of strenuous agricultural tasks to artificial intelligence, alleviating the serious labor shortage. Leading the charge are farmers with large […]

New Title: The Cutting Edge of Agriculture: Robots Revolutionize Harvesting in Japan

TOKYO – Smart farming is making significant strides in Japan, raising expectations that producers will be able to entrust the majority of strenuous agricultural tasks to artificial intelligence, alleviating the serious labor shortage.

Leading the charge are farmers with large greenhouses who have started using robots with artificial intelligence developed by startups in ways that shape the future of cultivation and crop harvesting.

In September, a four-wheeled AI robot moved slowly through the lush green foliage of a plastic greenhouse on a farm in Hanyuu, Saitama Prefecture, eastern Japan, picking only the ripest cucumbers.

“Initially, we were afraid the robot would cut cucumber stalks, but it moves precisely,” said Takeshi Yoshida, owner of “Takamiya No Aisai” farm. “Now, we expect a lot from the robot because the workforce is severely limited.”

The farm is owned by the subsidiary of Takamiya Co., which manages agricultural greenhouses and other facilities, while the robot was developed by the startup Agrist Inc. and uses a camera and artificial intelligence to determine the right time for crop harvesting.

The farm has leased an automated cucumber harvester from Agrist, which has been developing harvesting robots since its establishment in 2019 in Miyazaki Prefecture, southwestern Japan.

“Takamiya No Aisai” is the first farm to lease one of Agrist’s robots. The robot checks the size of the cucumbers based on images taken by the camera mounted on the robot, recognizes ripe cucumbers, and cuts and places one to three pieces in a box every two minutes.

The robot also positions its arms precisely in relation to the cucumbers to avoid damaging the handles.

The startup hopes that with more success, other farms will adopt such systems.

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