NEW AGE OF FRUIT PICKING
The landscape of our fruit farms could be about to change with the new addition of robot fruit-pickers.
Hall Hunter Partnership has teamed up with Fieldwork Robotics, an offshoot of the University of Plymouth led by Dr Martin Stoelen, to develop an innovative machine that is capable of picking a whole range of fruit without the need of human help.
Hall Hunter Partnership is a major player in the fruit industry, growing 14,000 tonnes of berries each year and supplying supermarket chains such as Waitrose, Marks & Spencer, and Tesco. They will be trialling the robot to pick their fruit in a range of environments in Sussex, including poly tunnels and open fields.
David Green, the chief operating officer at Hall Hunter Partnership, says: “This is an exciting new development to pioneer the harvesting of raspberries robotically at a commercial scale.”
However, in order to effectively pick the fruit the technology must be highly complex. Robin Edwards, the regional director of CLA South East that represents hundreds of farmers in Sussex, explains: “It needs to be able to spot a berry, assess if it’s ripe, and pick it without damaging the soft fruit.
“One of the challenges will be working at commercial speed, so it will be interesting to see how it develops.” Watch this space…