U.S.: Naturipe invests in Harvest CROO Robotics
Naturipe Berry Growers adds to a growing list of investors in the technology which will involve a new prototype to be tested during the upcoming strawberry harvest.
One of North America's leading strawberry growers has invested in Harvest CROO Robotics, a company aiming to rise to the challenge of rising labor costs and the need for automated fruit picking.
"The lack of availability of labor to harvest strawberries is one of the great challenges facing our industry,” said Naturipe Berry Growers CEO Rich Amirsehhi.
"Harvest CROO Robotics’ technology to harvest berries has tremendous promise to solve this critical problem."
The company plans to test its latest prototype during the Florida strawberry season starting in November, with improvements including harvest speed and the development of an autonomous mobile platform to carry robotic pickers through the field.
Once the strawberries are picked, they will be transferred overhead to the platform level where they will be inspected and packed into consumer units by delta robots.
The development of the packing robots, next year, will mark another key milestone in Harvest CROO Robotics’ technological advances.
"We were at commercial speed, last March, at a rate of 8 seconds to pick a plant. Now by using embedded processors and a streamlined picking head design, we expect to easily cut that time in half.
"Naturipe Berry Growers sees joining this collaborative effort as an important step in ensuring the sustainability of the U.S. strawberry industry and putting our growers in a position to be early adopters of the technology," Amirsehhi added.