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Bridgestone Working To Reduce Rubber Tree Disease

Bridgestone has developed a technology that utilizes AI image analysis to diagnose and detect disease in Para rubber trees.

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Bridgestone says it is working to realize sustainable supplies of natural rubber by reducing the disease risks currently facing Para rubber trees.

Bridgestone says it has developed a technology that utilizes artificial intelligence (AI) image analysis to diagnose and detect disease in Para rubber trees. The initiative is a joint project with Information Services International-Dentsu, Ltd. (ISID).

Bridgestone has utilized a drone-based disease diagnostic technology that merges aerial photography and AI image analysis with the knowledge of on-site farm disease experts, the company says. Through these trials, the company has developed a technology that can distinguish between healthy trees and trees with white root disease (WRD). Natural rubber derived from Para rubber trees is a raw material used in the manufacturing of tires.

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WRD is a disease that affects the roots of Para rubber trees. This disease is difficult to diagnose, and causes trees to rot if left untreated. WRD can therefore significantly impact natural rubber harvest yields. Moreover, WRD is on the rise as there is currently no effective means of combatting this disease.

The company says prior diagnostic methods entailed calling upon farm experts to make judgments based on comprehensive evaluations of the foliage and observing factors, such as leaf color and leaf development, of affected trees. Trees suspected to be infected by WRD were dug up and roots were inspected. Thus, the accuracy of the diagnosis was dependent on the skills of each individual team member.

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Bridgestone says it is working to address these environmental issues by diversifying and expanding its sources of natural rubber. One such initiative is this R&D effort focused on improving the efficiency of Para rubber tree-derived natural rubber. In addition, the company says it is advancing initiatives for supporting sustainable business activities with technologies that contribute to the stable supply of natural rubber.

To achieve the company’s vision, “2050, Bridgestone continues to provide social value and customer value, as a sustainable solutions company,” Bridgestone has set a new environmental mid-term goal, Milestone 2030, to further promote the challenges of “decoupling” the growth of its business from its environmental impact and increased resource consumption.

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Bridgestone will continue to evolve technological innovations by combining our unique rubber knowledge with digital technologies and will co-create value through the work with various partners, the company says.

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