New strawberry-picking robot regarded as 'revolution' for harvesters

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New strawberry-picking robot regarded as 'revolution' for harvesters

A new robot that can efficiently pick and package ripe strawberries has been described as 'revolution' in harvesting fruit, says Science Business.

The bot, called ‘Rubion’, was unveiled by the EU-funded photonics innovation incubator, ACTPHAST 4.0. 

The company worked with the R&D corporation Octinion, which specializes in providing robotic solutions to agriculture and food industries, to develop the farm aid.

The innovative creation can pick a bruise-free fruit every five seconds with its delicate clasping mechanism, explains the publication.

What's more, it has the ability to deliver between 180 and 360 kilograms in a 16-hour day, it says.

This means would take just 14 of these new robots less than 7 days to pick and package up to 34 thousand kilos of perfect, red, unblemished strawberries every year.

In contrast, an enthusiastic human picker can collect around 50 kilograms in a day, depending on a worker's skill and experience, notes Science Business.

A human worker would also need to take breaks, be willing to work for little pay, and avoid the temptation to eat some of the berries.

How Rubion operates

The robot uses a combination of technologies to work.

With its patented arm-mechanism, the robotic picker detects a ripe strawberry with lasers before literally ‘clasping’ a hanging berry from beneath. It then can sort the fruits by size or weight and pack into punnets as it goes along, comments the publication.

Rubion uses photonic sensors to detect the wavelengths of light, or the ‘signatures’ given off from a ripe, red strawberry according to a pre-programmed set of characteristics the RGB camera built into the ‘eye’ of the robot.

Science Business quoted CTO & co-founder of Octinion, Dr Jan Anthonis elaborating.

“Just like you know what a plump, juicy red strawberry looks like, Rubion can do this mathematically, first looking for the infrared spectroscopic heat signatures given off from a fruit, getting a perfect ‘hit’ every time.

“The arm has our very own patented ‘soft touch gripper’ that doesn't do any more damage to the strawberries than a human would. It picks the strawberry literally like a person without cutting or burning the stem, but by actually picking a berry.”

Read the full story here

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