Robotics firm Wootzano joins project to combat labor shortages in crop harvesting

Robotics firm Wootzano is part of a project that aims to tackle the lack of labor in the UK horticulture industry using technology. As part of 'Agri-OpenCore,' the County Durham-based company is contributing its know-how to part of the £9.13 mln program that aims to develop an open development platform - including software and hardware - for robotic crop harvesting. It is hoped the platform will open the door to the creation of commercial robotic systems using tomatoes and strawberries as test cases.

Although currently, there is no robotic harvesting system that can match the speed of human picking, Wootzano says its fruit and vegetable packaging system called Avarai has matched human costs for packing fresh produce. The understanding is set to be applied to Agri-OpenCore, which is being led by APS Produce - one of the UK's leading suppliers of British tomatoes to the high street.

Wootzano makes 'electronic skin', which enables robots to perform skillful jobs easily / Image: Wootzano.

Dr. Atif Syed, CEO of Wootzano Ltd, said: "The Wootzano team, together with growers, academia, and the agri-robotics industry, is working on Agri-OpenCore, a project targeting an open development platform for robotic systems. The platform will facilitate standardized access to the core robotic software and hardware components, enabling rapid adoption by the industry and academia. The Wootzano team will work on the end-user packing case for vine tomatoes using our commercial Avarai system as the base product."


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