A generation of new robots, developed in Europe, that use photonics to detect a fruit is entering the field. This type of robot is made of malleable materials such as silicone and other polymers instead of the usual metal. These materials give robots organic characteristics, replicating the way muscles work and allowing them to move and perform human-like tasks that are impossible for old-school metallic machines.
Given the flexibility of the materials, robots can now pick soft fruits without damaging them. Another potential feature of the robots of the future is the ability to self-repair, emulating the human body’s ability to heal. Current research is mainly looking at improving the materials used and devising ways for them to avoid chemical reactions. In the UK, researchers at Cambridge University are currently working on developing self-healing materials.