Initial field trials of raspberry harvesting robot

Posted on 25 Jun 2019 and read 462 times
Initial field trials of raspberry harvesting robotUniversity of Plymouth spin-out Fieldwork Robotics Ltd has completed initial trials of its robot raspberry-harvesting system at a West Sussex farm owned by soft-fruit grower Hall Hunter Partnership, which supplies leading supermarkets.

Data from the trials will be used to improve the prototype system before further field trials later this year. If those are successful, the production of a commercial system is expected to begin in 2020.

The company (www.fieldworkrobotics.github.io) was established to develop and commercialise the work of Martin Stoelen, lecturer in robotics at Plymouth University’s School of Computing, Electronics and Mathematics.

He said: “Starting the field testing is a major milestone.

“It will give us invaluable feedback to keep developing the system towards commercialisation, as part of our Innovate UK funding.”

Farmers around the world are increasingly interested in robot technology to address the long-term decline in farm labour.

Fieldwork Robotics is focusing initially on raspberries because they are more 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 for other soft fruits and vegetables.

Hall Hunter Partnership COO David Green said: “For agricultural and horticultural businesses such as ours to stay competitive in developed economies, we must embrace and invest in the latest technological innovations.

“We expect the use of robotics for harvest and husbandry activities, combined with the spin-off benefits of additional data collection and micro-analysis, to play a significant role in increasing product quality, productivity and yields in the short and medium term.”

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