Autonomous Agricultural Machinery in Japan

The autonomous machinery has the opportunity to bring the solution of labor shortages and assist to the aging of population in Japan. The chance of implementation of autonomous system is moving forward rapidly with the idea to convert small fragmented lands to large scaled farms. 

Autonomous spectrum in Japan is essential for the innovation guidance as the low range will conclusively be the significant barrier to the development in the country and its product’s strength in the global market.

In Japan, the development of autonomous machines is emerging rapidly. If referred to the ascending levels of autonomy (US), the development of autonomous machines in Japan is lingered between level (3) operator assisted autonomy and (4) supervised autonomy. Prof. Noguchi from Hokkaido University reported that the near future, the coordinated operations of unmanned vehicles operation  have potential in agricultural applications

The Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries has set objectives for achieving the commercialization of autonomous driving systems on farming lands by 2018 and unmanned remote monitoring systems by 2020. The expected timeline for the autonomous system to be matured is forecasted about 20 years from proof of concept stage until maturity. The machineries depending on very much GPS and other wireless technologies are available to locate its position. It has been equipped with front/ rear/ left obstruction detection sensors. The evolution of machines into smart robots is robust due to AI technology that utilizes machine intelligence and human-thinking ability to process various data to make predictions, recommendations and decisions.

To enhance the  value of the agriculture sectors reaching the target of earning 5 trillion yen in 2030, their development plans are to solve various issues of performance, durability, applicability, cost-effectiveness and the capability to understand farming.

Assisted to the development, the spectrum of autonomous machines consisting of five ascending level acts as a guideline for both government and companies to further developing new products and establishing a flexible legal system. Despite all the great efforts from government and industrial institutions, the 2020 full autonomous plan is evaluated as highly ambitious due to the current inadequate infrastructure and high cost of implementation.