British research team of agricultural engineering and machinery experts develops harvesting robot with IDS camera

Lettuce is a valuable crop in Europe and the USA. But labour shortages make it difficult to harvest this valuable field vegetable, as sourcing sufficient seasonal labour to meet harvesting commitments is one of the sector's biggest challenges. Moreover, with wage inflation rising faster than producer prices, margins are very tight.

Lettuce is a valuable crop in Europe and the USA. But labour shortages make it difficult to harvest this valuable field vegetable, as sourcing sufficient seasonal labour to meet harvesting commitments is one of the sector's biggest challenges. Moreover, with wage inflation rising faster than producer prices, margins are very tight.

In England, agricultural technology and machinery experts are working with IDS to develop a robotic solution to automate lettuce harvesting. The team is working on a project funded by Innovate UK and includes experts from the Grimme agricultural machinery factory, the Agri-EPI Centre (Edinburgh UK), Harper Adams University (Newport UK), the Centre for Machine Vision at the University of the West of England (Bristol) and two of the UK's largest salad producers.

Within the project, existing leek harvesting machinery is adapted to lift the lettuce clear from the ground and grip it in between pinch belts. The lettuce’s outer, or ‘wrapper’, leaves will be mechanically removed to expose the stem. Machine vision and artificial intelligence are then used to identify a precise cut point on the stem to neatly separate the head of lettuce.

"The cutting process of an iceberg is the most technically complicated step in the process to automate, according to teammates from G subsidiary Salad Harvesting Services Ltd.", explains IDS Product Sales Specialist Rob Webb."


For more information:
IDS Imaging Development Systems GmbH
Dimbacher Str. 10
74182 Obersulm - Germany
Tel: +49 7134 96196-0


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