Panasonic Corp. will begin selling tomato-harvesting robots on a trial basis around 2019 amid a shortage of farmers and an aging agricultural population, a company official said.

The equipment is being developed under a government-sponsored national project to use technology to make Japanese farm products competitive in cost with overseas produce after tariffs on most imported goods are removed under the Trans-Pacific Partnership free trade deal, it was learned Tuesday.

The robot will determine if a tomato is ripe enough to pick by analyzing its color via an advanced camera and sensor equipment.

Using information technology, Panasonic also plans to develop a system that can automatically control the temperature and humidity in a greenhouse depending on the state of vegetables growing there.

It also plans to develop a device to check the quality of tomatoes for shipment.

Panasonic aims to use its sensor and automated transport technology not just in the industrial sector but also in the agriculture and logistics sectors as demand for such advanced equipment is expected to grow.