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Fruit-picking drones to combat farm labor shortage

Fruit rotting on trees or on the ground costs farmers some $30 billion in sales a year. Fruit picked even two weeks late loses 80 percent of its value.

Currently, a major reason for wasted produce, sometimes in the form of fruit rotting on trees, is a global shortage of fruit pickers, estimated to grow to five million missing workers by 2050. Even today, more than 10% of all fruit worldwide cannot be harvested – equivalent to the total annual consumption of fruit in the entire European Union.

Now, Israeli startup Tevel Aerobotics Technologies has developed flying autonomous robots that take off from a base station, pick only the ripe fruit off the tree and gently lower it for collection. Because they’re not human, Tevel’s robotic pickers can work 24/7 during the harvest. They never get tired, never need to step out for a coffee or bathroom break and don’t plan holidays.



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