Farm equipment manufacturer Kubota Corp. said Friday it will roll out an autonomous combine harvester in December, becoming the first to introduce such a farm machine in Japan.
Utilizing an advanced global positioning system, the “Agri Robo combine” can autonomously follow a preset, most efficient route through the field and harvest rice. It can also automatically get to a set destination to unload rice husks before its hopper becomes full, according Kubota.
Introduction of the combine harvester comes after the autonomous tractor that the company began selling on a trial basis last year.
The smart combine harvester equipped with GPS system is priced around 20 million yen ($180,000).
Given Japan’s aging and declining population of farmers, self-driving farm machinery is expected to make the agriculture sector more efficient.
Kubota said it aims to improve the quality of agricultural produce and cut costs through the automation of farming.
A driver still needs to be onboard to monitor and command the robotic combine during some operations. Unloading of husks requires manual labor as well.