Strawberry picking robotized

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Although most of us pick our strawberries from the grocery store shelves, industrial robotics have arrived to the rather labor intensive fruit picking business. This new robot got the Excellence Award in Service Robot category at the Fourth Robot Awards ceremony in Japan. The robot moves along the strawberry plants and finds the ripe fruits with its cameras. The fruit's exact position is determined using a stereoscopic camera. The robot handles the strawberries by their stalks, so the fruit is not damaged during the process. Ripeness of the fruit is also checked before picking. Currently the robot only picks fruits that are at least 80% red. Harvesting a 1000 sq m strawberry field using human power takes about 500 hours. The robot can reduce the time by 40% to only 300 hours.

The strawberry picking robot is being tested by farmers in Japan, so the development of the final, practical version of the robot will start early next year. Now the robot is set to pick strawberries, but similar crops, such as tomatoes can be harvested with it as well.
Although this robot is in the spotlight now, it is not the only experiment to robotize strawberry harvesting.

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