Jerusalem: Scientists have developed the world’s most advanced sweet pepper harvesting robot, that can detect ripe produce using computer vision and pick them within seconds.
The robot SWEEPER, developed by researchers including those from Ben-Gurion University of the Negev (BGU) in Israel, is designed to operate in a single stem row cropping system.
Preliminary test results showed that by using a commercially available crop modified to mimic the required conditions, the robot currently harvests ripe fruit in 24 seconds with a success rate of 62 per cent.
Polina Kurtser, a PhD candidate at BGU, said that robotic harvesting will revolutionise the economics of the agriculture industry and dramatically reduce food waste.
“The Sweeper picks methodically and accurately. When it is fully developed, it will enable harvesting 24/7, drastically reduce spoilage, cut labour costs and shield farmers from market fluctuations,” said Kurtser.
Additional research is needed to increase the robot’s work speed to reach a higher harvest success rate.
Scientists expect that a commercial sweet pepper harvesting robot will be available within four to five years and that the technology could be adapted for harvesting other crops.