Why robots will soon be picking soft fruits and salad

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Lauren Raziano, Web Editor

Because of the soft and easily bruised nature of fruits and vegetables, the picking of crops has been prone from automation. But recently, technological developments have allowed for sensitive and dexterous robots, with the use of cameras and Ai to carefully pick and crop fruits and veggies.

The Vegebot is the first robot that can identify and harvest lettuce. Vegebots success rate is at 91% but it still takes 31 seconds on average to pick one lettuce. 

The goal for automation of crop picking is because agriculture is under pressure to meet rising demand for food production, climate change also puts pressure on agricultural lands and the deletion of natural resources.

Employment in agriculture has faced a long time labor shortage (43% in 1991 and 28% in 2018) The development of robots in agriculture could relieve growers who suffer from economic losses due to labor shortages. 

Robots could do more than 20 hours a day, 7 days a week & improve production, which human labor can’t. Robots could also lead to more sustainable farming practices, using less water, fuel, pesticides, and waste.

Robots also have to become more robust before being implemented to survive harsh conditions. About a ⅓ of crops planted rot because human laborers cannot  recheck crops daily to search and pick perfectly ripe food, a problem that automation of agriculture could prevent.

The goal is for robots to go into production next year, but it may take years for farmers to have access to them because of the price.