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Robotics Hardware

Japanese Robot Picks Only the Ripest Strawberries 202

Posted by timothy
from the worry-when-it-starts-tasting-them dept.
kkleiner writes "The Institute of Agricultural Machinery at Japan's National Agriculture and Food Research Organization, along with SI Seiko, has developed a robot that can select and harvest strawberries based on their color. Ripened berries are detected using the robot's stereoscopic cameras, and analyzed to measure how red they appear. When the fruit is ready to come off the vine, the robot quickly locates it in 3D space and cuts it free. From observation to collection, the harvesting process takes about 9 seconds per berry. Creators estimate that it will be able to cut down harvesting time by 40%."
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Japanese Robot Picks Only the Ripest Strawberries

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  • by Paul Fernhout (109597) on Sunday December 05, 2010 @02:21PM (#34452646) Homepage

    http://knol.google.com/k/paul-d-fernhout/beyond-a-jobless-recovery [google.com]
    "This article explores the issue of a "Jobless Recovery" mainly from a heterodox economic perspective. It emphasizes the implications of ideas by Marshall Brain and others that improvements in robotics, automation, design, and voluntary social networks are fundamentally changing the structure of the economic landscape. It outlines towards the end four major alternatives to mainstream economic practice (a basic income, a gift economy, stronger local subsistence economies, and resource-based planning). These alternatives could be used in combination to address what, even as far back as 1964, has been described as a breaking "income-through-jobs link". This link between jobs and income is breaking because of the declining value of most paid human labor relative to capital investments in automation and better design. Or, as is now the case, the value of paid human labor like at some newspapers or universities is also declining relative to the output of voluntary social networks such as for digital content production (like represented by this document). It is suggested that we will need to fundamentally reevaluate our economic theories and practices to adjust to these new realities emerging from exponential trends in technology and society."

  • Re:Lot of track? (Score:5, Informative)

    by nospam007 (722110) * on Sunday December 05, 2010 @02:34PM (#34452774)

    Having a dozen people lying on their stomach on each side of a tractor puller 'wings' isn't cheaper.

    http://www.slk.at/fileadmin/img/Fotobewerb/fw_Gurkenflieger_Norbert_Breuer_4100_Ottensheim.jpg [www.slk.at]

  • Re:Lot of track? (Score:4, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday December 05, 2010 @02:42PM (#34452852)

    The video seems to show this moving on smooth straight metal tracks. I wonder how adapting it to travel on uneven dirt paths will affect it's ability to cut the intended strawberry? Either that or they run track up each row in their one square kilometer field.

    A lot of premium strawberry production is done hydroponically in greenhouses, especially in Japan. An almost ideal, controlled environment for robotic gardening.

  • by Hatta (162192) on Sunday December 05, 2010 @03:16PM (#34453134) Journal

    It's not that ethylene is bad, it's that ripening off the vine sucks. You're stuck with the amount of flavor when picked, ethylene just softens the fruit. On the vine the fruit can keep adding flavor as it softens. Strawberries are really only good ripened on the vine and eaten within 24 hours of being picked. Anything else is a pale imitation.

  • Too slow. (Score:5, Informative)

    by Animats (122034) on Sunday December 05, 2010 @03:17PM (#34453142) Homepage

    From observation to collection, the harvesting process takes about 9 seconds per berry. That's too slow.

    This isn't the first strawberry-picking robot. Here's one from five years ago. [technovelgy.com] But compare this with a commercial strawberry harvester [youtube.com] that's just digging up the beds. (Note, incidentally, that the tractor is driverless. That's standard precision farming technology today; several GPS manufacturers make the gear for that.)

    Automated fruit sorting using computer vision is a routine process, and it's really fast. [youtube.com] Small-fruit sorting machines are strange to watch. Cameras watch the fruit go by, and air jets push it around. This is all happening in bulk, much faster than humans can even watch, as big conveyors pump a stream of mixed product through the machine and streams of sorted product come out.

    Robotic tomato pickers have been built by several groups, but so far the machines are too slow and the cost is too high.

    In practice, the way agricultural sorting works is that the good stuff is sold is fresh fruit, the not-so-good stuff goes off to make jellies, tomato paste, and such, and the rejected stuff becomes animal feed or fertilizer.

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