AI Case Study
Abundant Robotics device autonomously harvests apples using machine vision to identify appropriate fruit
Abundant Robotics, a vendor, offers technology which is able to autonomously harvest firm fruits using machine vision. Their product detects the location of apples on branches and according to their color, which signifies if they are ready for harvest, uses a vacuum style system to pull them and collect them.
"The robots, as yet unnamed, were designed to be strong and fast enough to remove one fruit per second from a tree, but gentle enough not to damage trees or the fruit, according to Abundant Robotics’ CEO and co-founder Dan Steere. The company has developed a robot that can drive itself down an orchard row of apples and look for fruit on a trellis up to 3 metres tall. It is programmed to select fruit for colour, then using its arm, sucks in a piece of fruit off a branch. The company has conducted field trials with orchards in Washington state, and overseas in Australia. It plans to engage in more of these prior to commercialization of its robots, Steere said."
Proof of concept; results not yet available
"The robots employ computer vision to recognize apples on the branch that are ready for harvesting".
According to SRI Ventures President, Manish Kothari, "it had not been possible to automate the task of apple picking before recent breakthroughs in computer vision and image processing were made. The challenge comes as a result of young people tending to not want to work in farms, while elderly pickers are slowly retiring."