Leave it to the Japanese to create yet another specialized robot to do a job that previously only a human could do.
Developed by Japan’s National Agricultural and Food Research Organization [JP] this award winning robot [JP] can delicately pluck individual strawberries from the vine. Not only is it gentle enough to snip the stalks of the berries and drop them into a padded crate, but it’s smart enough to detect the color of the perfectly ripe berry and only pluck those. By using a pair of cameras, it’s able to detect the precise position of each berry in three dimensions, then uses special software to only select berries that are at least 80% red.
As you can see from the video clip, the robot currently can only handle strawberries, but could be modified to harvest other sorts of fruits or veggies if so desired. The robot is currently being field-tested by farmers to see if it could be more efficient than human berry picking. Early signs are that at a rate of one berry every 9 seconds, the robots could help reduce harvesting times by about 40%.
Looks like the berry pickers’ union is going to have a beef sometime soon.