Ripe Robotics’ fruit picking robot is edging closer to orchard trials, as the fifth iteration of the robot has been developed further over the last few months. The robot has seen significant updates in this period.

Hunter Jay, CEO of Ripe Robotics: “We’ve undergone some pretty massive design changes recently. We’ve changed the end-effector, previously we had big tubes which worked well on a small scale, when we were picking apples of up to a couple of hundred, there was no problem. But a stick might become lodged  every couple of hundred, which is still far too often. A stick every 10,000 apples is still too frequent.”

“So we’ve made some changes, still using suctions but using a smaller suction cap that wraps around the fruit, and it’s looking to be a lot more effective. We’re still hoping to get it into orchard late this season, there’s obviously only Pink Lady apples still to be picked but we’re still aiming to get it out for testing, and then oranges after that and look to expand throughout next season.”

It takes around 4 – 5 seconds, on average, for a human to pick an apple. The robot uses several arms to fill a single bin of fruit – the video below is the most recent footage available of the robot, but does not include some of the new design modifications.