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"Cucumber picker available within two years"Do you know the fairy tale of the cucumber harvest robot? A long, long time ago, the project was started. Anf finally, ten years later, an Eindhoven start-up has developed a model that visiualized, recognizes, qualifies, harvests, transports, selects and packs ready to ship cucumbers.
The robot is developed byCrux Agribotics, part of the Eindhoven ‘One of A Kind’ Technologies Group. It is a sequel to the harvesting robot where, amongst others, Dutch growers cooperative The Greenery was working on since 2007. That project was shelved for a couple of years and since three years ago Crux Agribotics took over the project.
According to Crux' Richard Vialle, the hardest part of the development of the robot is not just about the machine, but also about the data that is being collected. The concept is fully automated and based on Robotics, Vision and Machine Learning technology. It means that data from every step is available for the grower and that the machine will learn over time to work better.
"This means that work in the greenhouse requires a lot less people, with a higher yield per m2 and less chance to catch a virus," Richard explains. "And there are more benefits. The grower has 24/7 insight into his greenhouse and crop. This enables him to predict how many fruits can be harvested, packed and sold."
Not only harvesting
It sounds interesting, such a handyman in your greenhouse. But, to be honest, fifteen years ago it was already said that robots were going to harvest cucumbers and right now, there are still zero harvesting robots present in the average Dutch greenhouse. What about this device? When can we buy it for a reasonable price? "In terms of speed and reliability, we have reached the norm at the beginning of this year. We can make a balanced business case and with a payback period that is interesting for growers."
Tomato and pepper
Currently, the company is working on the commercial version of the robot. "We need another two years and we are now looking for strategic investors." After that, robots for peppers and tomatoes are in the planning.
Canada is at the forefront
That it’s going to succeed, is a certainty for Richard. Simultaneously with the harvest robot, Crux Agribotics is also developing a testing robot and a packing robot. This system can ultimately test and sort 30,000 cucumbers per hour. The first has already been sold to a Canadian grower. "By selling it, we actually proved ourselves," says Richard. "And in addition to all the millions of investments that it has taken so far, we have also generated the first financial value with our start-up."
Curious about the robot? Watch the video below for an impression:
For more information:
Freddy van Riemsdijkweg 8
5657 EE Eindhoven
Phone: +31 (0)40 257 19 29
Publication date: 7/4/2017
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