Strawberry fields will forever be changed by robots that can automatically identify and pick ripe berries, according to Japanese researchers.
Developed by the minds at an organization aptly abbreviated IAM-BRAIN (that's the Institute of Agricultural Machinery's Bio-oriented Technology Research Advancement Institution), the machines can harvest more than 60 percent of a strawberry crop.
Even though each machine takes nine seconds to pick a strawberry, they can cut harvesting time from 500 hours to 300 hours for a 1,000-square-meter field (about a quarter-acre), BRAIN's Shigehiko Hayashi explains in the video below.
The robots can also pick strawberries at night. There's more video of the machine at work here, on BRAIN's Japanese page.
The berry bot has a stereo camera system that images the strawberries in 3D. Image-processing algorithms gauge their ripeness, and if a berry is at least 80 percent red, the machine neatly snips it at the stem and deposits it in a bin.
Japanese farmers are field-testing experimental versions of the robots and testing is expected to be complete by the end of the year. … Read more