Farms are confronted with major challenges: The use of fertilisers, for example, is to be reduced, while at the same time there is a shortage of labour. Around the world, farms are therefore trying to digitalise and, if possible, automate their work processes. We have already reported on the most promising approaches to smart farming here on //next. Today, we would like to introduce you to another piece of the puzzle in this overall picture: a picking robot for strawberries as an example of how agriculture can be automated.
The robot is currently specialised in picking strawberries, but according to the manufacturer IAV, it can also be adapted to other target crops such as tomatoes or peppers. It is important for the company to emphasise that its product is only intended to complement humans and not replace them: "Initially, the robot will only take over harvesting and initial transport tasks. The aim is not to replace humans, but to compensate for a lack of labor. Everything around it, preparatory and finishing work, as well as care, control and maintenance of the machine will be taken over by humans."
According to golem.de, the robot moves through the planting aisles on a mobile base: The arm, which is equipped with a camera and a gripping system, locates the strawberries, uses artificial intelligence to determine their degree of ripeness and places the ripe fruits in a basket after it has separated the strawberry from the plant by the stem. The robot can also recognise ripe strawberries that are behind green fruits. It has already harvested 3.5 million pieces and can work for about 20 hours without a break. The manufacturer does not name the price.
Here at //next, we see "advanced robotics" as a key element for the further automation of production and logistics processes and also in agriculture. Details about the presented robot, including videos and a FAQ section, can be found here on a landing page of the manufacturer:
Hier geht es zur deutschen Version dieses Textes: Smart Farming: Roboter als Erntehelfer