The raspberry-picking robot doesn’t have a name yet but it’s pretty impressive. Initially the brainchild of Dr. Martin Stoelen, a lecturer in robotics at Plymouth University, it’s being developed in a partnership between Fieldwork Robotics and berry grower Hall Hunter. The robot has recently begun trials in a greenhouse at a Hall Hunter farm near Chichester in West Sussex.
Robot Can Pick 25,000 Raspberries a Day
Rolling around on wheels, the 6-foot tall robot can pick up to 25,000 raspberries a day. Human pickers only average about 15,000 during an eight-hour shift. While the human workers only have two hands, the raspberry picking robot features four “grippers” that simultaneously grab the fruit. Now it just doesn’t pick every berry it comes across. Thanks to machine learning, the AI identifies which raspberries are ripe and only picks those. It will grab the others when ready.
AI Identifies Ripe Berries and Sorts By Maturity
Onboard sensors and 3D cameras allow the robot to navigate the orchard and identify the raspberries. According to the developers, it takes about 10 seconds for the gripper to grab each one. The robot then drops the berry into the tray where the fruit gets sorted by maturity. The raspberries are put into baskets where they will ultimately make their way into the grocery store. The robot can pick for about 20 hours a day compared to the 8 of its human counterparts.
The developers are still working out some kinks so there is no word yet on price or when the robot will make it to market. The robot isn’t just limited to raspberries as trials in China have had it picking tomatoes and cauliflower.