Kubota Corp. said Wednesday it will release a rice-planting machine with automated driving functions in October.
The aim of the first such machine in the industry is to reduce the burden on farmers by reducing the need for manpower in the process of planting rice. It will sell for ¥6,875,000.
The rice planter first creates a map of the rice field using GPS while being driven by a human around the perimeter of the field. It will then calculate its rice-planting route based on the map and automatically plant rice seedlings, according to the major Japanese agricultural machinery-maker.
A human driver is not necessary in the planting process, but the machine does need to be monitored by a person with a remote controller.
Rice-planting is usually done by two people — one to drive a planting machine and an assistant to keep it filled with seedlings. The automated rice-planter reduces the number of people needed for the process to one as the person monitoring the machine can also refill it with seedlings.
Demand for self-driving farming machinery is high because of manpower shortages and the aging of farmers. Kubota has already launched tractors and combine harvesters with self-driving functions.