Strawberry farming robots are oh so sweet

There is nothing nicer than biting into a sweet, ripe strawberry. But, on the flip side, it doesn’t sound pleasant having to stand in the sun and bend over all day to pick them. Here’s another brilliant chance for robots. And intelligent companies, like Advanced Farm Technologies, are grasping it.

The founders of Advanced Farm Technologies previously owned Greenbotics, a company using robots to service and wash solar panels. So, it’s clear they’re not afraid of new technology. In fact the company prides itself on using robots to improve costs and quality for customers, and improve conditions for workers. And, it’s not afraid to impress us with what these bots can do.

The tech team

The company’s strawberry harvesting robots, T-6s, have multiple robotic arms topped with soft grips, to delicately handle the berries. The grips are easy to clean and replace, designed with food safety in mind. The robots also help pick for picky eaters: the stems come off, meaning the berries are ready to eat now. On America’s West Coast, strawberries are harvested 70 times each season. Hence, Advanced Farm Technologies has its robot prototypes in Oxnard, Santa Maria and the Salinas-Watsonville regions.

And it’s not the first company to bring robots into agriculture. Harvest CROO Robotics is doing a similar thing. The Florida based company is revolutionizing the agriculture industry with its automatic harvester, Berry 5 (B5). The B5 is expected to be put to work next harvesting season. It’ll need workers to pack the berries for now, but the aim is to provide a fully autonomous process. Vision Robotics has developed a robot with the ability to thin lettuce, prune grapevines and weed unwanted areas. Soon, these robots will be a common sight. The autonomous, or self-driving, tracker market was worth $648.9 million in 2016, and is expected to hit $4,389.8 million in the next five years.

It’s not just robotics

The agriculture industry is getting smarter at using its data too. Tech startup agtools is helping farmers maximize their crop, by using AI tools to plan their harvest. It then works as a communication system: consumer trends and crop data > farmer > product data > retailers and buyers. Buyers are given information about market availability, surplus and pricing shifts. In between, shipping companies receive data and insights, helping them plan the most efficient timing and routes. The final product is a smart, connected supply chain.

Startups in the industry saw a 43% increase in funding from 2017 to 2018, and it’s not expected to stop any time soon.

Are you developing agriculturural robotics or technology? Did you know your work could be eligible for the R&D Tax Credit and you can receive up to 14% back on your expenses? To find out more, please contact a Swanson Reed R&D Specialist today or check out our free online eligibility test.

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