Raspberry-picking robot ‘could replace migrant workers after Brexit’

Rob Waugh
Contributor
The robot stands six feet tall (Fieldworks Robotics)

A £700,000 robot can pick raspberries delicately from a plant and place it into a punnet, taking 10 seconds to pick each berry.

But researchers at the University of Plymouth believe that the six-foot machine could soon pick up to 25,000 berries per day.

It could help farmers who are struggling to find workers due to continuing uncertainty over Brexit.

The robot was developed by Fieldwork Robotics in partnership with one of biggest berry growers, HAll Hunter.

It’s now on trial at a Hall Hunter farm near Chichester.

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It uses 3D cameras and sensors to detect raspberries: the final version of the machine will have four grippers picking simultaneously.

Dr Martin Stoelen, a lecturer in robotics at Plymouth said, 'We looked at human muscles, such as the biceps and triceps, and the way humans can flex and stiffen those muscles depending on the situation.

'We've also been using "deep learning" to build a large database of raspberries that will make it easier for the robot to classify and grade them.'

The researchers hope to adapt the robot to pick other crops such as cauliflowers in the future.