Yanmar is taking the stress out of rice planting with the launch of a self-driving, high-precision vehicle.
The expectation is that 200 units of the diesel-powered, high-seedling density YR8D transplanter will be sold in the first year once it goes to market in February next year.
Designed to simplify rice seedling planting operations and reduce operator fatigue, the vehicle can perform straight-line planting as well as a 180° turn at the end of the field autonomously.
In recent years, Japan has seen a trend toward both consolidation of smaller farms into larger ones, and a fall in farmer numbers together with an aging of the farming population, resulting in labor shortages in agricultural communities.
Yanmar hopes that these shortages can be alleviated by the use of geolocation and automation technologies and has added the auto rice transplanter to its line-up to ease the burden of long working hours and allow for highly accurate planting.
The auto-transplanter extends the number of autonomous off-highway vehicles developed by the company, with the existing auto and robot tractors Yanmar released earlier in the year as part of its SmartPilot autonomous driving technology series.
With a standardized control unit, highly accurate autonomous operation can be realized by implementing a dedicated program for the rice transplanter.
The vehicle has two modes of operation. In Linear Mode, the transplanter moves forward autonomously in a straight line, with turns handled manually by the operator. In Auto Mode, the equipment not only drives itself in a straight line, but also handles the turns required to plant the field for automated work.
The two modes allow various types of work depending on the skill level of the operator and the conditions found in the paddy.
Utilizes the company’s proprietary autonomous driving technology the vehicle will only be available in Japan from February 1, 2019, priced between ¥3.9m (US$35,387) and ¥5.5m (US$49,611) before tax.
Interested in autonomous industrial vehicles? Check out the Autonomous Industrial Vehicle Technology Conference, which takes place during iVT Expo. Both the conference and iVT Expo take place on February 13-14, 2019 in Cologne, Germany.