Large, seedless, with light green skin as well as firm and crispy texture of each single grain, just a nibble to let sweet juice exploding in your mouth along with strong floral and musk aroma. This is the Japanese "Shine Muscat", a popular high-class grape that has the trio of quality, aroma, and taste, known as the "Queen of Muscat". In a vineyard of Japan, a mysterious robot with the classic red colour frame was recently spotted to correct the effect of labour shortage on muscat.
The Japanese grape with juicy, sweet, thick flesh and unique refreshing aroma (Source: 企業組合ジパング)
Japan's Yamagata Prefecture is one of the four main production areas of Shine Muscat that is widely exported to other Asian countries. However, most grapes are cultivated with intensive labour under family-run model or small-scale business. As elderly farmers retired and rural youth fleeing their villages, the Japanese fruit industry is seeking for new techniques to bear this premium sweet grape variety.
Shine Muscat vineyard in Yamagata Prefecture (Source: 企業組合ジパング)
In mid-July, Japanese farmers have brought an autonomous farm robot - XAG R150 Unmanned Ground Vehicle into a private Shine Muscat vineyard in Yamagata Prefecture with the help of drone company Zipangu. They used the robot in a trial to test if this hands-free machine can precisely spray the vineyard and ward off pest insects or diseases.
On the request of the fruit growers, the robot operator adjusted the spray volume and angle carefully on mobile app. With a few clicks, the R150 began moving forward and spraying water bottom-up to grape vines that climb on overhead trellis.
The local farmers and experts watching the spraying demonstration (Source: 企業組合ジパング)
This nimble robot also easily traversed beneath the horizontally arranged grape vines, in which farmers need to bend over to walk through. This can reduce adverse health impacts on farm workers who used to perform repetitive motions. "It's like a new type of cure to my back pain, I suppose," a farmer who watched the demo said.
The R150 farm robot performing autonomous and precise spraying to the grapes (Source: 企業組合ジパング)
From this summer, it is expected that Japanese farmers can enjoy a higher level of automation when growing their queen of fruits.
Who will be the one to taste the first batch of high-value grapes served by an autonomous robot? And are you willing to pay 10 times the price of locally-produced grapes to try this new table variety?