It’s harvest season in the Northern hemisphere, so farmers head into the fields to gather the fruit of their hard labor. But now, robots are along for the ride.
A few days ago, a boxy yellow robot rolled through the rows of yellow pepper patches in a Belgian greenhouse, spotting and picking the ripened fruit. Moving along the tall leafy plants, the robot paused whenever its camera detected a ripe yellow pepper and then with a quick move of a blade, cut the stem, grabbing the fruit with a palm-like catcher.
Named SWEEPER, the robot is a result of a collaboration between Israeli, Dutch, Swedish, and Belgian scientists—a complex piece of equipment aimed to help farmers and agricultural workers in the harvesting process. Peppers aren’t the only items SWEEPER should be able to handle. With some modification, similar robots can be devised to gather apples or tomatoes, for example.
Some argue that these robots may cause job losses for agricultural workers, but the reality is more complex. As the climate changes, heat waves intensify, and humidity increases, working long hours in the field is becoming more unhealthy, and in some cases dangerous, for humans. Even greenhouse conditions, tailored to the plants’ needs, may in some cases be too hot or humid for people.
According to reported data from 1992 to 2006, 68 crop workers in the U.S. died from exposure to environmental heat. In essence, toiling in the fields is a hard job that will become even more difficult as climate change progresses, so humans will likely have to rely on robots to do some farming. “We don’t expect these robots to replace people,” says Prof. Yael Edan, head of BGU’s ABC Robotics Initiative, whose team worked on the SWEEPER robot. “We think they would help with tasks that are difficult for people to do.”
To teach SWEEPER to identify peppers and harvest them gently without damaging them or the plant they grew on required artificial intelligence and machine learning. Unlike humans, who can discern the colorful fruit among the green foliage quite easily, even in somewhat dim lighting, robots have a much more difficult time doing so. Polina Kurtser, BGU Ph.D. student in computer vision and robotics, says that the team had to use thousands of pictures of peppers to teach the robot to identify the vegetables.
The harvesting arm, called a gripper or manipulator, went through many integrations, including pulling, cutting and dropping the fruit into a bag, as well as other harvesting variations—to devise the most efficient and safest model.
“The part of the gripper that goes into the plant is very compact; it’s quite a smart design that prevents the knife from harming the plant,” says Boaz Arad, BGU Ph.D. student in the Department of Computer Science.
It took the team about three and a half years to arrive at the current model, he adds. At the end, during its latest greenhouse demonstration, SWEEPER passed the test.
The BGU team is developing other agricultural innovations too. One of them is a smart pesticide sprayer that would calculate the exact amount of chemicals needed to keep plants healthy. Rather than spraying abundantly, the machine would target the chemicals, thereby reducing people’s exposure to them.
Learn more: BGU Researchers Are Changing the Farming Culture
The Latest on: Robotic farming
[google_news title=”” keyword=”robotic farming” num_posts=”10″ blurb_length=”0″ show_thumb=”left”]
via Google News
The Latest on: Robotic farming
- U.S. robotic spacecraft Odysseus aiming for historic moon landing later todayon February 22, 2024 at 3:13 am
Will Odysseus — a robotic spacecraft that's traveled more than 1 million ... Upcoming rocket launch schedule for SpaceX, NASA in Florida Hernández, a former migrant farm worker, displayed a PowerPoint ...
- EPAA develops robot for coral reef farmingon February 21, 2024 at 3:18 am
Dr. Osama Malika Wahba, a scientific researcher at the Environment and Protected Areas Authority (EPAA) in Sharjah, announced that the participation of EPAA in the UAE Innovation Month with an ...
- Robots doing farmwork in outskirts of Shanghaion February 21, 2024 at 1:11 am
An engineer maneuvers a farm robot in a field at the Diantian Farm in Shanghai on Jan 25. ZHAO YIHE/XINHUA SHANGHAI — Rural farming has long been closely associated with cattle, plows and toil. Today, ...
- How AI-powered Robots Are Changing the Game in Rural Shanghaion February 20, 2024 at 4:00 pm
Gone are the days when farming solely depended on the hard work of cattle and humans. A revolution is unfolding in rural Shanghai, where agricultural robots are taking over tasks that were once the ...
- AI imagines robots doing farming in India, check picson February 19, 2024 at 4:10 am
Agriculture in India has drastically evolved from using traditional agricultural tools to using modern farming methods like agriculture robots.
- Modesto-area company unveils robot-aided nut harvester. It reduces labor and duston February 18, 2024 at 12:02 pm
Flory Industries has added a robot-aided model to the nut harvesters it makes in Salida. The company teamed with Bonsai Robotics on what appears to be the first such machine in California.
- Adorable Italian robot uses blasts of radiation to fight mildew on farmson February 12, 2024 at 12:31 pm
This adorable Italian farm robot uses blasts of radiation to fight mildew on Italy's vineyards without the use of harmful chemicals.
- Cotton-picking electric robot could boost farm output by up to 20%on February 12, 2024 at 10:16 am
This cotton picking electric robot from Turkey could boost farm output by up to 20% by picking up what bigger tractors leave behind.
- Sharp turns to robots, farming to supplement its TV ventureson February 12, 2024 at 3:23 am
The European Commission on Thursday strenuously denied watering down its proposals for data protection laws as a result of United States lobbying. With snappy previews that treat Modern apps as ...
via Bing News