Ag Pro Robotics from Watsonville, California, has presented a semi-autonomous strawberry harvesting robot called StrawBot. The machine is designed to support human strawberry pickers, as it can autonomously follow them through the field during harvesting.
Although there have been many attempts to develop an autonomous strawberry picking robot, no company has perfected this process, as it is difficult to both identify ripe berries and to pick them without damaging the fruit. The StrawBot can, however, collect full strawberry trays from the workers, carrying the full trays to the end of row collection points.
StrawBot keeps pace with the human pickers as they work down a row of strawberries during harvest season. Image: Ag Pro Robotics
“StrawBot eliminates all the walking human pickers have to do,” Raleigh Nielsen co-founder, CTO and motion control specialist for Ag Pro Robotics told therobotreport.com. “It keeps the human pickers picking – and that’s enough to yield substantial cost savings.”
According to Nielsen, StrawBot provides farmers with labor cost savings of roughly 18-35%. It also enables pickers to cover 15-20% more ground.