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Kubota taps Nvidia tech for smart-farming autonomous tractors

Japanese machine maker sees US chipmaker's AI as next labor-saving step

Kubota unveiled its completely autonomous concept tractor this year. (Photo courtesy of the company)

OSAKA -- Kubota has partnered with U.S. chipmaker Nvidia to develop highly sophisticated self-driving farm tractors, the Japanese machinery maker said Tuesday.

The tractors will be equipped with Nvidia graphics processing units and artificial intelligence, coupled with cameras to instantly process collected data.

The farming technology is expected to provide a labor-saving solution that will help address the shortage of workers in Japan's agricultural industry.

Kubota launched the Agrirobo line of tractors in 2017. Although the tractors can run autonomously using radar to ascertain surroundings, they require human supervision and they do not use AI.

The technology developed through the partnership with Nvida looks to attain complete autonomy. To improve safety and functionality, the tractors require high-tech cameras to collect and analyze image data.

Nvidia's GPU and AI will be adopted to minutely analyze weather data and crop conditions.

Japan's aging society has led to a labor crunch in the farm industry. Smart farming has become a pressing issue amid the need to curb labor costs.

Kubota's rivals, such as Deere & Co. in the U.S., are adding driverless technology to their equipment. Major automakers are collaborating with Nvidia, but such a partnership in the agricultural sector is still uncommon.

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