Japanese Equipment Maker Kubota Developing Vineyard Robots

Japanese farm equipment manufacturer Kubota is trying to take vineyard farming in a brand-new direction. Nikkei says Kubota is working with Tesla co-founder Ian Wright to make farming robots controlled by artificial intelligence. The partnership is working initially on robots that will help producers grow grapes. The grape-growing machines will move through vineyards on their own, with the AI analyzing camera images to select which branches to trim and how well the grapes are growing. The company plans to have the grape robots eventually handle harvesting too. Kubota says it anticipates demand from West Coast farms in the U.S. currently using conventional equipment. The company says it’s undertaking the project because global demand for food will rise 70 percent above the 2010 level while the number of farmers is declining in the world’s industrialized nations. Kubota already sells autonomous tractors to rice growers, and those units can run by themselves under human supervision.

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