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"Project "Catch"

Germany: Robots to harvest cucumbers

The cucumber harvest could become much more efficient by using autonomous picking robots.
The Fraunhofer Institute for Production Systems and Construction Engineering (Fraunhofer IPK) and the Leibniz Institute for Agricultural Technology and Bioeconomy (ATB) have committed themselves to the development of such a solution, together with other partners in the "Catch" project, which was launched on Tuesday. The Potsdamer Research Institute shared that they are working towards the development of autonomous machines which are capable, in any weather conditions, of recognising, picking and depositing cucumbers ready for harvest. In order to achieve this, a multi-armed robot is to be developed and tested, which would later also be suitable for other agricultural tasks, According to the ATM, the end product is to not only be efficient, but also cost-effective. 

Up until now, harvesting cucumbers has proven to be very expensive due to the extent of the manual labour involved and unless harvest technology is improved in Germany, the harvest will very soon barely be profitable at all. "It's a hot topic; a solution has to be found in the near future because cucumber farming is rapidly declining", explained Heinz Peter Frehn from Gurkenhof Frehn at a workshop at the project launch. From the ATB's point of view, aside from the time factor, the development of the robot is also determined bu their need for it to be of a high standard. "The harvest of at least 13 cucumbers a minute is our goal", explained the project participant Jelena Surdilovic. However, the quality of the produce should not be affected by the harvest process.

In a previous project completed in 2013, according to the institute, the mechanical harvester withdrew the plants from the soil and impaired the quality of the cucumbers. However, this problem can be avoided with the current approach of "intelligent automated cucumber harvesting". The project is supported by EU funds.

Click below for more information on project CATCH:
Lesen Sie mehr hier zum Projekt CATCH.

Source: Proplanta
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