Shepparton-based startup Ripe Robotics is working on an automated prototype called Eve, which is aimed at harvesting fruit from the two sub-sectors of apples and oranges. The entrepreneurs seek to correct the effects of labor shortages that weigh heavily on the fruit industry.
Ripe Robotics -founded in Sydney- was one of just 13 companies worldwide selected for this prestigious, collaborative group, and more recently was picked as part of accelerator Startmate's winter cohort of Australian and New Zealand startups.
From its origins with the University of Sydney's INCUBATE program in 2019, Ripe Robotics is now fielding calls from all over the world asking when a commercial fruit-picking robot will available, but they will have to wait as Australian apple, citrus and stonefruit growers test out the developing technology.
Leopold Lucas says the project grew from Jay's interest in pushing the boundaries of what artificial intelligence can achieve, combined with their common desire to "produce something that's meaningful and valuable".
"It ended up coming down to a few different areas in Australia, particularly mining and agriculture, but we realised that agriculture has a much bigger opportunity for expansion and has really been left behind by innovation that's benefited a lot of other sectors," he told businessnewsaustralia.com..
He says apples were chosen as the first target crop due to the way they are now produced on two-dimensional trellises in many cases, enabling growers to get better yields and fruit quality.