Kubota is field testing the prototype of a 60hp autonomous tractor. Initially designed for cultivation and spraying duties, the company is also looking to trial it with an automatic vegetable planter. The driverless tractor is the latest product in the company’s Farm Pilot series, which already includes GPS guidance and field mapping and data recording technology. The company says it is moving quickly to develop a range of autonomous farm machines, and is already field testing a couple of rice machines, including an eight-row transplanter and a 100hp harvester.

Kubota is not the only Japanese tractor maker looking down the driverless route. Yanmar and Iseki are also believed to be speeding up the development of autonomous tractors, and industry insiders reckon machines from all three players could go on sale in the region as early as next year.