Robots gear up to harvest cauliflowers
The job of harvesting cauliflowers could one day be in the mechanical hands of robots thanks to a collaboration between scientists and the French canned vegetable producer Bonduelle, The Guardian reports.
Fieldwork Robotics, the team behind the world’s first raspberry-picking robot, is designing a machine in a three-year collaboration launched on Monday.
An early prototype already exists, developed by Fieldwork’s co-founder Dr Martin Stoelen, lecturer in robotics at the University of Plymouth and associate professor at the Western Norway University of Applied Science. It has a gripper and a cutter that can neatly slice off a cauliflower head.
“It works in a lab environment, where we put a lot of cauliflower heads in a row,” said Rui Andrês, Fieldwork’s chief executive. The robot is guided by sensors and 3D cameras and uses machine learning, a form of artificial intelligence.
Cauliflowers are a current favorite of foodies who have rescued them from their traditional insipid cheese sauce and are using them as an alternative to rice and pizza bases, but the vegetables do pose a challenge for robot designers.
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