Japanese vision-enabled robot picks ripe strawberries

A Japanese company called Shibuya Seiki has unveiled a robot equipped with five LED light sources and three CCD cameras which picks ripe strawberries and could cut workloads by two-thirds.

Content Dam Vsd Online Articles 2013 09 Strawberry Picking Robot

A Japanese company called Shibuya Seiki has unveiled a robot equipped with three cameras which picks ripe strawberries and could cut workloads by two-thirds.

The device is able to gather a piece of fruit every eight seconds by using the cameras to determine which strawberries are ready to pick before darting out an arm and snipping them into a basket, according to Phys.org.

A machine vision unit on the robot has five LED light sources and three color cameras with CCD image sensors. Two cameras are on the side of the unit, which provide stereo vision to determine the fruit position in the 3D space, and the third camera is placed in the center to detect a peduncle and calculate its inclination, according to a research paper released on the project.

The robot moves on rails between rows of strawberries grown in elevated planters in greenhouses.

It "calculates the degree of ripeness from the colour of the strawberry, which it observes with two digital cameras", said Mitsutaka Kurita, an official of Shibuya Seiki.

He added, "It also uses the images from the two cameras to calculate the distance from the target, then approaches the strawberry it is aiming at.” “This robot would harvest two-thirds of strawberries during the night when growers are sleeping.”

Set to hit the market in early 2014, the 6'6" robot will likely sell for around $50,000 (five million yen).

View the research paper.

Also check out:
Robot lettuce pickers and the future of farming
Robots, UAVs used to photograph lions in the wild
Personalized vision-enabled robots for older adults

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