Strawberry Picking Robot
- Strawberry Picking Robot
- National Agriculture and Food Research Organization, SI seiko
- The 4th Robot Award
The Fourth Robot Awards ceremony took place at the National Museum of Emerging Science and Innovation. In the Service Robot category, an Excellence Award went to a strawberry picking robot that can tell which strawberries are ready for harvesting.
This robot uses cameras to detect the color and ripeness of strawberries, and harvests them by snipping the stalks, so it doesn't damage the fruits. It can harvest over 60% of a strawberry crop, taking nine seconds to pick each strawberry.
"The robot has two cameras, so it can detect the 3D position of strawberries using stereo imaging. At the same time, it measures the color, to see how ripe the strawberries are. Currently, the threshold is set at 80%, so if a strawberry is at least 80% red, the robot judges that it's ready for picking. Until now, cultivating 1,000 square meters of strawberries has taken 2,000 hours. About one quarter of the time, or 500 hours, is taken up by harvesting work. So we calculate that, by introducing robots, harvesting can be done in 60% of that time, or just 300 hours."
This robot has been designed to pick strawberries only, but the technology could be used to develop robots for harvesting other crops, such as tomatoes.
"This robot is currently being field-tested by farmers, under conditions very similar to actual working conditions. Our research will be completed this year, so we expect to produce a practical version after that. A lot of agriculture still relies on human labor, so it's quite a challenge to bring in robots. I think our receipt of a Robot Award reflects the challenging nature of this project."