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Farm aid: Japan's aging growers get hand from self-driving machinery

New technology enables robot mowers and tea harvesters with greater precision

Orec's mower can figure out its position with precision thanks to Japan's Michibiki satellite system. (Photo by Kento Fukui)

TOKYO -- As Japan's agriculture industry faces a chronic labor shortage, businesses are developing automated equipment to fill the gap and take some of the burden off graying farmers.

Farm equipment maker Orec, based in Fukuoka Prefecture on the island of Kyushu, has developed a self-driving mower for fruit orchards in partnership with NEC and Kyushu University. The user remotely drives the machine along the edges of the area to be mowed, it stays within those boundaries once the mower starts piloting itself.

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