Robot strawberry picker kills fungus with UV technology

Two Perth-based engineers have developed a strawberry-picking robot that could assuage on-farm labor shortages. The robot was designed to be of a similar size to a person, so it could be a direct replacement for human workers due to the current labor shortages in the agriculture industry.

Mark Brims, the director of BSC Electronics in Perth, is the lead engineer behind the prototype. Brims said it was difficult to determine how many people the robot could replace because there were many variables to consider: "The advantage of robots is they go 24/7. A human can only work sort of eight or 10 hours a day for five or six days a week. It's the tortoise and the hare — it eventually catches up — so [could replace] probably about one or two people per robot, but those comparisons are all a bit complicated."

The robot was made with 3D-printed parts and carbon-fiber rods, making it lightweight and inexpensive. It uses an in-built 3D color camera to locate a strawberry, discern the level of ripeness, and pick it. This prototype works best with hydroponic strawberries, which are grown around (a human's) waist height.


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