President Yoon Seok-yeol test-drove a self-driving rice transplanter during a visit to Chungnam province to encourage farmers. Yoon rode the RGO-690 model, which was introduced last month by TYM, the No. 2 company in the industry, rather than Daedong, the No. 1 company. Yoon reportedly chose to ride TYM’s product because it was the first autonomous farming machine to pass the government’s newly established testing standards. The test drive was organized by the presidential office at the request of TYM.
The RGO-690 is the first autonomous mower to pass the government’s national type test for autonomous systems. The software used in the RGO-690, such as the inertial navigation system (INS), route generation, and route following, and the hardware, such as the autonomous driving controller and console, were developed using TYM’s proprietary technology.
President Yoon Seok-yeol visits the rice planting work site of ‘Dreamer Farming Cooperative Corporation’ in Imcheon-myeon, Buyeo-gun스포츠토토, Chungcheongnam-do on July 7 and test drives an autonomous rice mower. /Provided by the Office of the President
According to the current law, to sell agricultural machinery in South Korea, it must pass the inspection standards set by the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, but the inspection standards for autonomous agricultural machinery were newly established earlier this year. The Korea Agricultural Technology Development Institute is commissioned by the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs to conduct the tests. “Companies have been mass-producing agricultural machinery with autonomous driving functions for several years, but there is no official certification test in Korea, so we decided to create one this time,” said an official from the Ministry of Agriculture.
TYM’s two models, RGO-690 and T130 (tractor), passed the test on May 12, and two LS Mtron tractors also passed the autonomous driving test at the end of last month. Previously, there were standards set by the Ministry of Agriculture for each stage of autonomous driving, but there was no test to evaluate whether the standards were met, so companies had to set their own stages.
There are four stages of autonomous driving for agricultural machinery. Stage 1 is simple straight driving, and stage 2 can automatically generate work paths. From the third stage, not only driving but also work can be automated, minimizing human intervention. The RGO-690 that President Yoon test drove is a stage 2 autonomous driving model.
TYM’s RGO-690, a two-stage self-driving rice transplanter that made headlines when President Yoon Suk-yeol took it for a spin. It was the first self-driving agricultural machine in Korea to be certified by the government in May. /Provided by TYM
“We will gradually upgrade the autonomous driving function to secure the working driving path error and turning entry path error within 7 centimeters,” said a TYM official, adding, “We plan to apply the autonomous driving system to various agricultural machinery such as combines as well as combines and tractors in the future.”
TYM’s combines and tractors are not the first autonomous farm equipment to be developed in Korea. Daedong mass-produced its first stage 1 self-driving combine in 2019. For tractors, the company has been mass-producing its first self-driving model since 2021.
Daedong is pushing for government certification for each autonomous driving level it has set for itself. “We have applied for the second stage of testing for tractors and combines this month,” said a Daedong official, “and we are developing stage 3 autonomous tractors and combines with the goal of launching them in September.”