The Kubota Corporation and Yamaha Motor Co Ltd have invested in USA startup Advanced Farm Technologies (AFT).
AFT is a USA-based startup developing and manufacturing robots for strawberry harvesting. The company’s TX robotic strawberry harvester combines an unmanned ground vehicle with image sensors and artificial intelligence.
The company says image recognition technology instantly distinguishes ripe and ready strawberries and the grippers at the end of the robot arms gently pick each one. The company says this automation technology significantly reduces conventional manned fruit and vegetable processes.
In an official statement, Kubota and Yamaha Motor say with this investment they will " . .utilise the technologies of both companies to accelerate technological development and business expansion aimed at implementing automated farming solutions from AFT for both field crops and top fruit."
The statement continued, "This collaborated initiative is a result of open innovation support promoted by new divisions launched by each company. Kubota established its Innovation Centre in 2019 to promote innovation through partnerships with external organisations. The Yamaha Motor Group is also using its company Yamaha Motor Ventures and Laboratory Silicon Valley, established in 2015, to gain a foothold in corporate venture capital activities through this investment.
"Working together with external partners, both companies will advance open innovation for proactive engagement with advanced technologies in the broad agricultural field and will work for the purpose of accelerating the creation of new businesses, products, and services to address various global social issues."