The Kubota Corporation and Yamaha Motor Co Ltd, together with Impact Ventures, have invested $ 25 million in Advanced Farm Technologies (AFT), a USA-based startup that develops and manufactures a robotic strawberry harvester.
The TX robotic strawberry harvester combines an unmanned ground vehicle with image sensors and artificial intelligence. Image recognition technology instantly distinguishes ripe and ready in-soil strawberries and the grippers at the end of the robot arms gently pick each one. This automation technology is to significantly reduce conventional manned fruit and vegetable processes and maximise operational efficiency.
AFT says the purpose-built machine consists of multiple, rugged robots able to withstand the rigors of outdoor, in-soil conditions with sophisticated computer vision and machine learning technology to navigate fields and harvest fruit autonomously up to 24 hours a day.
With the investment, Kubota and Yamaha Motor aim to 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.
In 2019, Yamaha Motor Ventures & Laboratory Silicon Valley led a Series A funding round for Advanced Farm Technologies (AFT), for development of the T-6 robotic strawberry harvester.