Job offersmore »

Tweeting Growers

Top 5 - yesterday

  • No news has been published yesterday.

Top 5 - last week

Top 5 - last month

Exchange ratesmore »

Prototype of greenhouse harvesting robot almost able to operate independently

No more clumsy people stomping around in the greenhouse, but a harvesting robot doing all the work. Is that the future of pepper cultivation? In Wageningen a prototype is assembled as we contemplate the question. The robot is equipped with a gripper arm with nine pivot points and a number of 3D camera systems.

Jochen Hemming from WUR

In April 2012 the first prototype was tested in a greenhouse environment. By the fall of 2013, this prototype should be able to independently operate in a nursery, picking peppers. And that's tricky, says researcher Jochen Hemming from the WUR of the Dutch Technology Society in Agriculture. "You’re dealing with a sensitive product in an unstructured environment. The fruits are mostly hidden among the leaves. A robot must be able to distinguish between a green leaf and a green stem to avoid damaging the plant."

The research is progressing, but will the project yield a realistic alternative to manual labour? An earlier contraption, the cucumber harvester, proved unprofitable. "The machine must also be economically viable," admits Hemming. "We have asked growers the hourly rate of their employees and developed our robot according to these numbers." That means that the machine has to reap a pepper every six seconds, day and night. "That’s something we’re trying to achieve right now. But we’re still a long way from marketing this thing. You could say we’re still grabbling with the philosophy of it all: can we really do this, and if so, how?"

About Crops

The Crops Project (Clever Robots for Crops) started in October 2010 and lasts four years. The project involves parties from twelve countries to develop a harvester for high value crops such as peppers, apples and grapes. Currently, a prototype is put together by Wageningen UR Greenhouse Horticulture - but the components are developed throughout Europe. Technicians of Jentjens Machinetechniek in Veghel designed the platform on which the unit can move through the greenhouse. The development of the harvest robot is funded by the EU (CROPS GA No. 246252) and the Product Board for Horticulture (PT No. 14555).

A second, improved prototype is undergoing parallel development.

Watch a video to see the robot in action


Publication date: 3/22/2013



Other news in this sector:

10/21/2016 China tests replacing farm laborers with machines
10/20/2016 Ag-tech tools have become more than just gadgets
10/17/2016 AU: Robotic technology gets thumbs up from farmer
10/5/2016 Growing use of coco coir blocks requires debaling machine
9/29/2016 Are you going to deliver your local produce with this electric cargo bike?
9/27/2016 Belgian strawberry harvesting robot is on its way
9/22/2016 Vegetable cutter with water jets processes quickly and hygienically
9/22/2016 Naturipe Berry Growers invests in Harvest CROO Robotics
9/22/2016 Octopus-inspired robotic gripper handles delicate produce
9/21/2016 "Robots must be affordable to be useful"
9/21/2016 Mechanized strawberry transplanter helps reduce labor conundrum
9/20/2016 See the PicknPack robot in action
9/19/2016 Visser/Toyota Vitoy forklift a hit in North America
9/16/2016 Collect and destack crates in a jiffy
9/13/2016 Dutch propagator recirculating via Opticlear Diamond installation
9/13/2016 See the completely autonomous tractor in action
9/6/2016 Japan: Farmer develops cucumber sorting machine with the help of Google
8/30/2016 India: Horticulture sector sees growth in automation
8/29/2016 Germany: Soil steaming machines facilitate weed control
8/17/2016 Panasonic to introduce commercial tomato-harvesting robot