North East robotics specialist Wootzano has secured a $47 million contract in the US which it says will be transformative for the company. The County Durham-based designer of systems that can delicately pick up fruit and vegetables to be packaged has signed a three-year agreement with an unnamed organisation that will see its robots sold across California. Wootzano says the deal will have a state-wide impact that could contribute significantly to California's economic growth through boosting its agriculture sector that is worth billions of dollars.

Wootzano's technology uses a human-like ‘skin’ that gives the robotic arms greater sensory awareness needed for delicate packaging of soft fruit and vegetables. The robot can estimate weight of the items and assess quality before packing the fresh produce into punnets for delivery to retailers.