The Farmhand Drone

Japanese Farmers Turn to Drones to Overcome Worker Shortage

The uses of drones have developed significantly over the past decade, evolving from high-end military instruments to specific commercial applications. One industry that has been exploiting these flying machines is agriculture, where drones have been deployed to survey the condition of fields. But now a new generation of devices is appearing on the horizon that can do more than just look.

In Japan, several companies are competing to develop high-tech drones for crop spraying and other advanced uses. They're working to fill a void that small-scale farmers in rural parts of the country are facing: a serious shortage of manpower. As the population ages and younger people move to urban areas, the agricultural sector is being left to tackle acute labour shortages. The drones perform arduous tasks and offer a solution to address the demographic shifts.

Nileworks, founded in 2015, is a company based in Tokyo that designs and manufactures drone technology for the agricultural industry. It builds an automated drone equipped with multiple rotors for spraying crops, and uses image processing and information technology to guide the machine to perform optimally.

The company claims its drone has the ability to recognise the shape of a field and spray at a height of just 30 cm above the ground, thereby reducing drift and wastage. The device can apply pesticides and fertilizer to a rice field in about 15 minutes, a job that takes more than an hour by hand and normally requires farmers to lug around heavy tanks. Nileworks will promote its flying machine to rice farmers in Japan when it launches the product commercially in 2019. It is also hoping to release the device in neighbouring Asian countries as other drone makers enter the market for agricultural drones.

This application highlights the potential of cellular-connected drones for enterprises. Robust connectivity would bring more intelligence to the devices, amplifying their utility. For wireless operators, adoption of drones with LTE and eventually 5G connectivity by enterprises would offer a wide new market of connected devices. Indeed, Qualcomm and other component suppliers are enabling and lobbying for the use of connectivity in drones and other devices in the robot family.

This is one of several interesting implementations of drones that are starting to appear in industrial markets. We expect these will boost interest in connecting drones as everything else becomes connected. The Internet of things will also fly.

This entry was posted on August 28th, 2018 and is filed under Devices. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed or you can leave a response.

Posted By Raghu Gopal On August 28th, 2018

Robert Kawaratani
- 2018-08-29 at 09:02
Yamaha has sold RC helicopters for this purpose for the past 20 years. It is also developing drones as well.
Drones would be a natural fit for Japan as the fields tend to be small (average rice farm is less than 2 hectares); limited battery power would not be problem it would be for US size farms.
Leave a Comment

Hot News

Team Tweets

CCS Insight
Omron's HeartGuide is the latest device to blur the line between wearables and healthcare devices:…
Follow CCS Insight
Shaun Collins
RT @MarinaKoytcheva: Worth watching this session on the outlook for the digital economy at #WEF19 It may not be a humble thing to say, but…
Follow Shaun
Ben Wood
Anyone aware of any stats from insurance companies (or elsewhere) on the incidence and cost of damage caused by wat…
Follow Ben
Martin Garner
Very useful briefing just now from brett Francis @AWS on the #IoT announcements from @AWSreInvent . Good to see how…
Follow Martin
Geoff Blaber
The only thing more incredible than the 10,000 employees Amazon has dedicated to Alexa is the speed at which it’s g…
Follow Geoff
Marina Koytcheva
Worth watching this session on the outlook for the digital economy at #WEF19 It may not be a humble thing to say, b…
Follow Marina
Nicholas McQuire
Major steps in the vital march towards #mobileEdge & #CloudComputing. An important partnership from #IBM &…
Follow Nicholas
Kester Mann
RT @MarinaKoytcheva: Worth watching this session on the outlook for the digital economy at #WEF19 It may not be a humble thing to say, but…
Follow Kester
Angela Ashenden
.@slackhq has a new Chief Product Officer, Tamar Yehoshua (ex-Google) to go with its new logo: “A heartfelt thank y…
Follow Angela
George Jijiashvili
@StewartMitchell Sure - feel free to DM me if easier.
Follow George
Katie Taylor
The lifesaving food 90% aren’t eating enough of: how more fibre could prevent disease-related deaths
Follow Katie

Recent Blog Posts

Blog Post
The Right Cuff Omron's HeartGuide Tries to Steal a March on the Apple Watch... Read more
Blog Post
Microsoft Links Up with Walgreens Changes Loom over US Healthcare Market Last Tuesday, Micros... Read more
Blog Post
Fossil and Google Sign Licensing Deal Fossil to License "Advanced" Smartwatch Tech to Google Goog... Read more
More blog

Latest Company News

Blog Post
Virtual Reality Device Market Declines in 2018 But Outlook Remains Positive Research firm CCS Insight forecasts 8 million virtual realit... Read more
More news