[BLT Insight]Self-driving agricultural machinery in Korea

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The trend of introducing autonomous driving is gaining momentum in agriculture. Recently, the decline in the rural population has become a significant issue due to the decrease in the agricultural workforce. The agricultural population, which was counted at 9.76 million in 2020, is projected to decrease to 8.45 million by 2050. This decrease in the agricultural population leads to a reduction in agricultural productivity, which can ultimately lead to the decline of agriculture. In response to these changes, the introduction of autonomous driving agricultural machinery and smart farms is being proposed. Autonomous driving agricultural machinery is a technology that provides autonomous driving by applying kits for autonomous driving to conventional tractors, enabling not only unmanned agricultural machinery but also cultivation innovation.


[Image] Forecast of Korean rural population


The core technologies of autonomous driving agricultural machinery are route generation, control, and situation awareness technology. Route generation technology uses GPS and Lidar technology to set waypoints within the working area of the farmland and generate the optimal working route. Control technology provides optimal driving tasks through devices for controlling driving, operating devices, and steering devices. Situation awareness technology utilizes Lidar sensors and GPS to recognize abnormal situations within the working environment and respond to them. Currently, leading companies in autonomous driving agricultural machinery technology provide autonomous driving by configuring controllers, control steering wheels, etc., for autonomous driving.


[Image] Technological stages of autonomous driving agricultural machinery


Domestic company Agmo (CEO Park Seung-jin, Jeon Chan-woo) has succeeded in raising investment (Pre-A, 1.5 billion won) with an attachment-type autonomous driving solution for agricultural machinery. Agmo's solution enables labor reduction and production increase through route generation for various tasks in diverse farmland and can be attached to various devices such as tractors, plows, and management equipment for performing various farming operations with maximum efficiency within limited farmland. In particular, it analyzes the condition of crops and soil within the working range and provides autonomous driving solutions accordingly. Agmo plans to enter the domestic market and the Asian market, which require small, irregular, and frequent turns, based on this investment.


[Image] Agmo's autonomous driving machinery kit and solution


Among domestic companies, Gint Co., Ltd. (CEO Kim Yong-hyun) is actively developing technology. Gint Co., Ltd. is an autonomous driving agricultural machinery solution company with a total of 56 patents. In particular, it has developed technology to respond to emergencies by applying situation awareness and autonomous driving. Although autonomous driving agricultural machinery has been relatively researched with lower difficulty than autonomous driving cars, it has faced difficulties in commercialization due to low emergency response capabilities and monitoring issues. However, Gint Co., Ltd. has solved this problem with its independently developed situation awareness algorithm and emergency response autonomous driving technology. Based on this technological capability, it has successfully raised a large-scale investment (Series B, 16.5 billion won).


[Image] Gint Co., Ltd.'s autonomous driving machinery kit and solution


Korean government support for the introduction of autonomous driving agricultural machinery is active. In particular, as part of the Digital New Deal policy, support has been provided for the development of autonomous driving agricultural machinery as a task for the transition to digital agriculture. As a result, various local governments are conducting demonstrations. Among them, Jeollanam-do is the most actively introducing it. Jeollanam-do plans to introduce autonomous driving tractors in 2024 and plans to deploy them in the field in conjunction with the agricultural machinery rental business. Jeollanam-do has established an innovation valley for the introduction of smart farms and aims to enhance agricultural productivity by introducing autonomous driving agricultural machinery.


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