Grape thinning robot tested in Japan's Yamanashi Prefecture

A farming-support robot has been presented in Yamanashi Prefecture, which is Japan's top producer of grapes.

The robot is being developed by a group of researchers at the University of Yamanashi to address the challenges of the aging Japanese society. Monday's demonstration was watched by about 100 visitors, including local grape farmers.

The robot used GPS and a camera to locate grape bunches and automatically cut off the excess grapes with its arms.

It appeared to face challenges at times, such as repeatedly circling the same spot without finding clusters and cutting off more grapes than necessary.

A grape producer said thinning requires seasoned hands and the task cannot be easily entrusted to others.

He said that although he would like to have the robot, it still requires some improvements because it had a roughly 50-50 success rate.

Professor Mao Xiaoyang, who heads the research team, said smart technology in fruit farming is lagging.

She said the robot is still not ready for practical use, but her team understands the issues, so it hopes to speed up development.