University of Plymouth spinoff Fieldwork Robotics has commercially deployed its raspberry picking robots in two locations in Portugal.
The autonomous robots feature four arms for picking, using sensor technology and grippers to curb harvesting times and reduce slippage.
Fieldwork is now working to accelerate the robots’ picking speed, aiming for each robot to collect 4 pounds of fruit per hour or more than 25,000 raspberries a day. The average human picking rate of 15,000 in a standard eight-hour working day. The team is also working to cut costs on the design by adapting the materials used for the robots, according to www.iotworldtoday.com
Launched in 2016, Fieldwork was created to develop and commercialize autonomous robots to fill productivity gaps and work alongside humans. With the global population set to boom in the coming years, the group’s product line is intended to target the issue of rising food demand that currently vies with land and labor shortages.
“The U.K. alone is facing a shortage of around 90,000 harvesters, and that has the potential to impact on food availability,” said director and CEO Rui Andres. “Our purpose has always been to help growers harvest everything they produce, keeping waste to an absolute minimum and ensuring they can operate in a sustainable manner.”
The group currently has two types of robots in commercialization; an adjustable vertical harvester that can be adapted to fit a variety of fruit plants and a horizontal platform that can be deployed in multiple farming environments without human supervision. Using AI, these robots can assess the ripeness of fruit and vegetable crops and determine when to harvest.