A new two-meter robot that has the ability to harvest and choose ripe strawberries was unveiled on Wednesday by Shibuya Sekei. The developer said that this new technology can actually cut the workload of by 2/3 of the time and can perform the task even as the farmer sleeps.
The robot has three cameras to help it determine which of the fruits are already ripe for harvest. The arm will then dart out and snip the fruit into a basket, with the ability to gather one fruit every eight seconds. It moves through two rows of strawberries through a rail in elevated planters in greenhouses where the fruits are usually grown. Mitsutaka Kurita, an official from the developer says that the two digital cameras determine the ripeness of the strawberry by looking at its color. It also uses the images to calculate its distance from the fruit before it aims for its strawberry target. The third camera is used for a more detailed picture of the fruit before it finally moves in to snip and add it to the basket.
According to the National Agriculture and Food Research Organization, which co-developed the project, strawberry farming takes a lot of time and labor, 70 times more than growing rice and twice that of tomatoes and cucumbers. This invention would actually harvest two thirds of the strawberries while the farmer is sleeping or resting, with human labor only needed to do a second sweep and reach those that the robot was not able to pick. It will be on sale by next year for around five million yen.
[ via MSN ]