Upp, a Shropshire, UK-based tech start-up, is using computer vision AI plus farm-sized proprietary machinery to expand crop yields. Its specialist, AI-driven harvester will make it more efficient to pick a familiar crop but also that the process will reduce waste -- by being able to extract more nutritious protein from a field of broccoli without needing an army of extra human workers to do it.
Upp says the smart machinery it's developing will enable broccoli farmers to harvest more of the plant than they feasibly could using human field laborers because the AI-plus-tractor-tool combo will do it all: Fully automating the spotting, cutting, lifting and carrying, at a rate of up to 3km/h.
This AI-driven approach allows for farmers to "upcycle" the 80% of the broccoli plant (i.e extra stem and leaves) that's normally left as waste on the field, per Upp.
The startup's concept system, which CEO and co-founder, David Whitewood, tells TechCrunch it's been developing with help from technologists at the University of Lincoln, involves a tractor kitted out with a 3D camera and an on-board computer running a computer vision AI model that's been trained to identify when broccoli heads are the right size for picking.