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Aerobotics -

Taking pictures of fruit can lead to greater efficiency and more accurate data

Fruit companies around the world are using iPhones to do more efficient fruit sizing for crops such as citrus, apples, grapes, stone and pome fruit, pomegranates, and most recently avocados and macadamias. "The TrueFruit AI fruit sizing toolset has been enthusiastically adopted by producers and marketing companies from around the world, many of whom we met in Berlin at Fruit Logistica earlier this year," says Victor van den Berg, Chief Commercial Officer of Aerobotics.

Aerobotics spearheaded the use of drone imagery and AI to measure orchard performance and detect anomalies. In September, the company will celebrate 10 years in the global fruit and nut industry. With head offices in Cape Town, South Africa and Fresno, California, they have analysed over 100 million trees and counting with their software.

"Measuring fruit was a natural next step after measuring trees and vines for so many years. For the past two years, we have developed the best AI sizing technology in the fruit industry that uses smartphone imagery and patented machine learning models. Working closely with our customers, we have built a comprehensive suite of yield measurement and management tools, which we launched as TrueFruit at Fruit Logistica 2024. It was very well received. We went to the show with a number of TrueFruit starter kits which included an iPhone Pro, the only equipment required to use our product. People could leave the show and start sizing their fruit as soon as their seasons started. We're very pleased with the amount of interest we saw in this technology at the conference. Citrus and apple companies were particularly interested, from a range of countries, from Southern and Northern Africa, LATAM, and Western Europe," explains van den Berg.

TrueFruit AI sizing technology has two modules available. TrueFruit Size for when the fruit is still on the tree to be sized as the season develops. This allows producers to track growth and forecast the size structure at harvest. Producers can also submit early- and mid-season estimates directly to their marketing teams to inform marketing programmes. The second is the TrueFruit Bin Scan solution. This allows a more accurate view of the post-harvest size structures before the fruit hits the pack line.

"A number of our customers replaced the more traditional methods like callipers with TrueFruit. We're as accurate as what growers use in-field, with field trials showing less than 1 mm difference, but a more efficient process compared to callipers. Producers can get a much bigger sample size in half the time with highly accurate measurements," states van den Berg.

Aerobotics have been processing more than a million photos of fruit per month through their platform since January. "This shows growers are using this data regularly to make decisions for crop load management and harvesting. By taking photos on a weekly or monthly basis they can monitor key factors such as growth curves and fruit size structure throughout the season," says van den Berg.

TrueFruit Bin Scan

TrueFruit has simplified yield data collection for producers worldwide. "You can use vehicles, drones etc. which are all valid ways to get information, but they involve expensive equipment and complicated processes. TrueFruit is very simple, someone in the field just needs an iPhone Pro, which is not hard to get hold of, and the data collection fits seamlessly into your operation. By simplifying the tech and putting it in a mobile phone, we made it easier to collect information at scale and this has made the difference in terms of tech adoption. Other collection methods have lower frequencies and equipment limitations," states van den Berg.

During Asia Fruit Logistica and other big international conferences later this year, Aerobotics will launch new AI features like automated blemish detection and colour analysis.

For more information:
Victor van den Berg
Email: [email protected]