Harvesting robot picks peppers

Working in greenhouses brings along a lot of manual labour, which is often monotonous and hard work. For this reason project CROPS was started to develop robots that could help with the care and harvesting of fruit, vegetables and flowers.

The aim of this project called “Clever Robots for Crops”, or just CROPS, was to develop robotic systems that are able to selectively spray and harvest fruit or vegetables while autonomously navigating through a plantation.

One of the robots that resulted from CROPS is a harvesting robot prototype that is able to autonomously harvest sweet-peppers. It is able to determine which peppers to pick by taking 3D pictures of the pepper, assessing the colour and shape, and decide which peppers are ready to be picked and which need some more time to grow. It then uses its soft gripper to gently pick the pepper without damaging it.

Trials have already proved that the robot can successfully complete this process and navigate through a greenhouse while avoiding obstacles. The advantage of using such a harvesting robot is that it can work autonomously night and day, regardless of the humidity or high temperatures.

The CROPS project was a joint effort of fourteen research partners from ten countries, coordinated by the Wageningen UR Greenhouse Horticulture, the leading research institute in the international greenhouse horticulture.

Other robots that are being developed by the CROPS project are precision spraying robots and apple harvesting robots.

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