Robot Farmer Operates 20 Hours A Day, Harvesting Tens Of Thousands Of Raspberries

Fieldwork Robotics, a University of Plymouth spin-off company, is developing an autonomous harvesting robot platform. A number of flexible robot arms attached to the platform will be able to pick raspberries, tomatoes, and other crops without crushing them or destroying the plant.

Fieldwork Robotics has completed initial field trials of its robot raspberry harvesting system. The tests took place at a West Sussex farm owned by Fieldwork’s industry partner, leading UK soft-fruit grower Hall Hunter Partnership, which supplies Marks & Spencer, Tesco and Waitrose. Data from the trials will be used to refine and improve the prototype system before further field trials are held later this year. If they are successful, manufacturing of a commercial system is expected to begin in 2020.

Fieldwork Robotics was incorporated to develop and commercialise the work of Dr Martin Stoelen, Lecturer in Robotics at the University’s School of Computing, Electronics and Mathematics.

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Starting the field testing at Hall Hunter Partnership is a major milestone for us, and will give us invaluable feedback to keep developing the system towards commercialisation, as part of our Innovate UK funding. I am very proud of the achievements of the team, at Fieldwork Robotics Ltd and across my different research projects on robotic harvesting here at the University of Plymouth,  says Dr Martin Stoelen,

Farmers around the world are increasingly interested in robot technology to address the long-term structural decline in labourFieldwork is focusing initially on raspberries because they are hard to pick, are more delicate and easily damaged than other soft fruits, and grow on bushes with complex foliage and berry distribution. Once the system is proved to work with raspberries, it can be adapted readily for other soft fruits and vegetables, with the same researchers also developing proof-of-concept robots for other crops following interest from leading agribusinesses.

Source: https://www.plymouth.ac.uk/

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