Souce: OctinionSouce: OctinionA Belgian robotics company has developed a strawberry picking robot to assist farmers and strawberry producers amidst farm worker shortages.

The strawberry-picking robot called Rubion, developed by robotics company Octinion, is capable of picking almost 795 lb worth of strawberries each day versus the roughly 110 lb of strawberries that human pickers generally pick in the same time frame, according to Octinion. This is accomplished through photonic sensors that detect light wavelengths, or “signatures” that emanate from the ripe red berries, as determined by a pre-programmed dataset of characteristics built into the robot’s internal RGB camera. Once the ripeness of the berry is determined, the soft grippers delicately grasp the strawberry, placing it into a bin where it is sorted by size and weight. This all occurs during what Rubion’s makers call a five-second picking cycle.

“Just like you know what a plump, juicy red strawberry looks like, Rubion can do this mathematically, looking for the infrared spectroscopic heat signatures given off from a perfect fruit, getting a perfect ‘hit’ every time,” said Octinion CTO Dr. Jan Anthonis.

Commonly, picking softer, delicate fruit like strawberries has been problematic to automate. Soft fruit is easily bruised and selecting ripe fruit requires the ability to distinguish among ripe, overly ripe and unripened versions. According to Octinion, Rubion is capable of all of this — locating, measuring, harvesting and packaging — without bruising or damaging the fruit.

Such technology is quickly overtaking the agricultural industry in light of reports that farms all over the world are experiencing labor shortages including a shortage of workers to harvest fruits and vegetables, resulting in produce being left to rot. Other attempts at automating the harvesting of fruits and vegetables have made recent headlines including a raspberry-picking robot that can pick 25,000 raspberries a day and an apple harvesting robot that autonomously suctions apples from trees. Similarly, Japanese rice farmers are also employing robotic ducks to reduce pesticides and weed growth in rice fields.

To see how the Rubion works, watch the accompanying video that appears courtesy of Octinion.

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