Costing £700,000, this robot, developed in partnership with one of Britain’s main berry growers named Hall Hunter, is said to be able to pick over 25,000 raspberries in one day. This robot outpaces human workers who can only pick around 15,000 an eight-hour shift. How does it do the harvesting?
Guided by sensors and 3D cameras, its gripper zooms in on ripe fruit using machine learning, a form of artificial intelligence. When operating at full tilt, its developers say the robot’s gripper picks a raspberry in 10 seconds or less and drops it in a tray where the fruit gets sorted by maturity, before being moved into punnets, ready to be transported to supermarkets.
The final robot version, expected to go into production next year, will have four grippers, all picking simultaneously.
Separate field trials in China have shown the robot can pick tomatoes, and it has also been let loose on cauliflower.
As robots don’t get tired, they can pick for 20 hours a day, but the biggest challenge has been getting them to adapt to different light conditions, says Rui Andres, portfolio manager at Frontier IP, one of the main backers of Fieldwork.
Andres says UK farmers typically pay £1 to £2 for a kilogram of raspberries picked by human workers. Fieldwork intends to lease its robots to farmers for less.
(Video Credit: Guardian News/ YouTube)