Kubota is looking to the future by investing $20 million in Tevel Aerobotics Technologies, an industry leader in the flying, autonomous fruit-picking robot harvesting segment.
Founded in 2017 in Israel, Tevel is developing autonomous flying robots for fruit picking and is combining artificial intelligence with computer vision, advanced robotics, aeronautical engineering, state-of-the-art flight control and data fusion and perception.
Every year, over 800 million tonnes of fruit are produced in an area of 70 million hectares worldwide, representing an annual market value of $1 trillion. Every year, growers spend $100 billion on fruit picking, and recruit over 10 million seasonal workers to pick their fruit. These temporary workers are increasingly harder to find, recruit, train, employ and house.
It is a task further compounded by their ability to harvest fruit within a short and competitive time-frame, alongside the complexity of crossing borders during the Covid-19 crisis – aspects which have further contributed to labour shortages. Therefore, Tevel’s solution seeks to increase global food security by providing an available and reliable supply chain.
Tevel has solved numerous technological challenges and is expected to implement commercial roll-out of its fruit-picking robots in 2021. Its solution delivers the highest performance at the lowest cost, along with high levels of flexibility that enable the harvest of multiple fruit types, including apples, pears and avocado.
With this investment in Tevel, Kubota has taken steps to accelerate its innovation philosophy with the objective of creating new business opportunities, products and services for the farming industry.
The strategic positioning of Kubota as a leader in global agriculture and equipment manufacturing, together with Tevel, will reinforce the company’s development of automation technology for fruit-picking. It will also enable the launch of a solutions business utilising these technologies, that will contribute to labour-saving and efficiency gains in farming.
Throughout its history, Kubota has shown its commitment to solving society’s challenges time and time again. As Kubota moves forward, the company will continue with its endeavours to contribute in the critical areas of food, water and the environment. An example of these endeavours were exemplified in 2019, as Kubota founded Innovation Centres in Japan and Europe, as divisions for the creation of new business ventures, products and services.
Kubota’s Innovation Centres help to produce an environment that fosters and promotes innovation through partnerships with external businesses, such as agricultural technology start-ups, food producers, research institutes, and universities.