Even though farming is perhaps one of the oldest professions, modern farmers are anything but behind the times when it comes to agricultural technology. Horse-pulled ploughs are a nostalgic memory for farmers who ride GPS-guided combines. Still, there are some aspects of farming that require a gentler touch. Now robotic technology is being developed to help bring in the fruit harvest, a labor that requires a little more love.
Agricultural Robots Face The Next Frontier: Harvest
by Owen Fletcher
Orange groves, too, have been targeted for automation. Energid Technologies Corp., of Cambridge, Mass., is working on a truck-mounted prototype with a large hydraulic arm. As the arm maneuvers around the orange tree, two forked pickers move in and out like a frog’s tongue. Cameras locate the oranges, and the pickers knock the pieces of fruit loose. The oranges, destined for juice, are picked up from the ground by hand, but another machine could be developed later to do this as well.
Machines already exist that grab orange trees and shake their fruit loose. But Energid’s approach is designed to do less damage to the trees and doesn’t require low branches to be removed before use, says James English, president and chief technical officer of Energid.