Yamaha Motor Co., Ltd. has been propelling its smart agriculture business with the merger of robotics and mobility. Specifically, the company has invested in a Brazilian startup, which provides solutions from agricultural drone development to service supply operations.
Japan’s agriculture is facing many challenges, including shrinking and aging workforce. Nonetheless, smart agriculture, using robot and information and communications technologies, has been gaining a great deal of attention.
Yamaha Motor positions smart agriculture as one of growth fields. The company has been expanding its lineup, including agricultural unmanned helicopters that adopt robotics and mobility technologies, agricultural multi-rotor drones, and unmanned ground vehicles (UGVs).
The company deploys Yamaha Motor Smart Agriculture Platform (YSAP), which manages optimum pest control and top-dressing work in accordance with crops’ growth conditions. Especially, the latest industrial multi-rotor drone YMR-08AP, features automated spraying using the autopilot function. In addition, it has a dedicated software for easy route creation. While contributing to labor-savings and improved work efficiency, it delivers high-quality spray distribution on par with the company’s industrial-use unmanned helicopters.
Yamaha Motor has been developing UGVs with high general versatility. The company has successfully conducted a field test of automated harvesting and transferring of grapes at a winery in Nagano Prefecture. The company did this by pairing an articulated robot arm with a UGV.
In 2016, Yamaha Motor started to target automation of agriculture using robotics technology by investing in Abundant Robotics. The U.S. startup develops robotic harvesting solutions, particularly of apples. In June 2021, the company concluded a joint development agreement on smart agriculture with Australian startup The Yield Technology Solutions Pty Ltd.
The Yield targets to solve challenges in the agricultural industry using digital technology. Sensing+ developed by the company combines sensors and analytics to provide a solution that helps growers make important on-farm decisions like when to spray chemicals, irrigate, and harvest.
Yamaha Motor has made new investments in ARPAC INDÚSTRIA DE AERONAVES SA (ARPAC), a Brazilian startup, through activities of Yamaha Motor Ventures & Laboratory Silicon Valley, Inc., a group company in the U.S. that conducts corporate venture capital (CVC) activities. With this investment, the company expects that it can acquire knowledge and network opportunities in the pesticide spraying business in Brazil and aims to build a foundation for global agricultural business with a view of expanding into countries other than Brazil in the future.
In Brazil, one of the world’s leading food suppliers, the market for smart agriculture, such as using electric drones to spray pesticides, is rapidly expanding, especially in large-scale farms. ARPAC is an agricultural drone service company founded in 2014 in Porto Alegre, Brazil. The company’s strength lies in monitoring the growth of sugar cane, soybeans, coffee, and other crops using its own drones and spot-spraying of pesticides based on the results of the analysis, providing integrated solutions from drone development to service supply.