Many horticultural crops, such as strawberries and tomatoes, traditionally rely on hand picking to prevent bruising during harvest. However, decreasing labour availability and rapidly rising costs have resulted in a labour crisis that threatens productivity across the UK and globally.
Robotic fruit picking is seen as the technological solution to this crisis. Despite demand from growers, however, current solutions are not yet commercially viable because they cannot pick the whole crop.
This Ceres project is developing a new robotic fruit picking head that can harvest many types of fruit. This complete picking solution will identify and pick delicate, ripe fruits growing in complex, dense clusters without bruising them.
This technology will have significant benefits for growers by reducing harvesting costs and de-risking labour availability and productivity.