Smart Agriculture Education and Research Center inaugurated

A robot tractor running unmanned. (Photo by Miho Nagao)

On August 31, 2023, the opening ceremony of the Hokkaido University Smart Agriculture Education and Research Center was held on Sapporo Campus. Smart agriculture is a technology that utilizes robotics and information & communication technology (ICT) to stably produce high-quality agricultural products based on data, rather than by relying on human intuition and experience. The Center will serve as a hub for the realization of the education and research as well as its implementation in society in this particular field.

The ribbon-cutting ceremony took place in the new building. (Photo by Manami Kawamoto)

The ceremony was attended by delegates from the national and local governments, companies, the University’s faculty members, and the media. Hokkaido University President Kiyohiro Houkin expressed his gratitude to all the attendees, affirming that the Center will be a base for co-creation with society in which the University will seek ways to assist sustainable agriculture.

Greetings from Kiyohiro Houkin, President of Hokkaido University (Photo by Miho Nagao)

Naomichi Suzuki, Governor of Hokkaido, delivers his congratulatory address. (Photo by Miho Nagao)

The Smart Agriculture Education and Research Center is a two-story building. The first floor houses a robot hangar for robot farming machines that have been developed, and facilities for manufacturing and modifying these robots. The second floor is used for the development of data communication and information processing technologies. A robot monitoring room is also located on the second floor. In addition, three laboratories are available for companies to rent. The Center serves as an open laboratory where new technological development is carried out in collaboration with companies.

The building of Smart Agriculture Education and Research Center which celebrated its opening. (Photo by Manami Kawamoto)

Robot hangar on the first floor (Photo by Miho Nagao)

At the demonstration following the ceremony, attendees were given the opportunity to see how the automated tractors were remotely controlled and monitored from the robot monitoring room at the Center. Some of the robot tractors were located on the fields just outside the Center; others were in Iwamizawa City, about 40 kilometers away, and in Urausu Town, about 60 kilometers away. The AI-based safety system which automatically stops the vehicle when it detects a person in front of it attracted the attention of attendees.

Each monitor in the robot monitoring room shows the view of a robot farm machine. (Photo by Manami Kawamoto)

AI detects an obstacle (an individual) (Photo by Manami Kawamoto)

After the ceremony, Professor Noboru Noguchi ,Dean of Research Faculty of Agriculture, who has been conducting research on smart agriculture technology for more than 30 years, said, “I am delighted with the opening of the Center. Today, we could share the goals of the Center with the many partners from the industry and government who attended the ceremony, and I look forward to enhanced collaboration with various organizations related to smart agriculture in the future.”

Professor Noboru Noguchi explaining about the Center. (Photo by Miho Nagao)

The Center has been drawing attention in the country and from abroad, including a delegation from Germany that observed a demonstration of remote operation in May this year. The Center is expected to contribute to solving issues facing the world, such as the shortage of human resources and the advancement of agricultural technology, by creating a cooperative system of industry-government-academia collaboration, and by promoting research and development of smart agriculture, human resource development, and social implementation.

Originally written in Japanese.

Rearranged by Ayumi Hasegawa

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