For independent watermelon harvesting

Virginia Tech team creates robot melon harvester

A group of Virginia Tech students are taking home $30,000 and first prize in the Ag-Bot Challenge for a competition on high-tech watermelon harvesting.

The Virginia Tech team has found a way to make sure that watermelons will reach consumers in their optimal condition by taking traditional farming equipment and giving it a high-tech twist. This way, Virginia Tech's Ag-Bot team is revolutionizing watermelon farming.

"The idea is that farmers could set this up before going to bed and wake up in the morning and all the ripe watermelons would be picked up," says Alexander Leonessa, a Mechanical Engineering professor. "The farmer doesn’t have to be there. They don't have to supervise it. It's completely autonomous. That's the dream we have here." The harvester would also help ageing farmers.

Senior Mechanical Engineering student, Howard Guo: “The harvester taps on the watermelon and listens to the sounds, just like you would at the grocery when you put it by your ear and tap on it. If it's hollow it will harvest it. If not, it will leave it."

The autonomous Ag-Bot sees the watermelon, taps it and harvests it.

The process saves farmers time, but more importantly: money. further quoted Guo as saying: "Labour and renting machines make up 25 percent of operational costs, but with our system a farmer will order it, deploy it to the field, harvest his watermelons and then return it. It doesn’t even require a driver."

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