Like many industries across the world, Australia’s fruit-picking sector has been impacted heavily by the COVID-19 pandemic, creating a massive void in the labor market that would normally be filled by backpackers looking to make buck on the road. Local researchers have cooked up a creative partial solution to this problem, developing a fruit-picking robot that can harvest apples from orchards at high speed.
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Robots stand to benefit the world of agriculture in all sorts of ways, from inspecting crops, to herding sheep, to combing fields and zapping weeds with lasers. We’re also starting to see how they can play a role on the food production side of things, with robots emerging that can pick raspberries and harvest iceberg lettuce, or even prune fruit trees to keep them healthy and free from disease.
Researchers at Australia’s Monash University Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering have turned their attention to apples. The robot uses a mix of cameras and deep learning algorithms to scan the trees of an orchard and detect the pieces of fruit, which requires it to process information on their shape, orientation and the location of the stem-branch joint to minimize damage to the produce and the surrounding foliage.
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Source: Nick Lavars
Photo credit: Press