Robot ‘Sweeper’ picks pepper in 24 seconds

JERUSALEM (Xinhua) – Pre-liminary test results showed that “Sweeper”, an advanced sweet pepper harvesting robot, can harvest ripe fruit in 24 seconds with a success rate of 62 per cent, Israeli Ben Gurion University (BGU) reported on Sunday.

The examination was made by using a commercially available crop modified to mimic the required conditions. When the robot is fully developed, it may enable harvesting 24 hours a day.

The robot “Sweeper”, was developed in a consortium including BGU researchers, as well as researchers from the US, Sweden, Belgium and the Netherlands.

It is designed to operate in a single stem row cropping system with non-clustered fruits and little leaf occlusion.

The BGU team spearheaded efforts to improve the robot’s ability to detect ripe produce using computer vision and has played a role in defining the specifications of the robot’s hardware and software interfaces, focusing on supervisory control activities.

“Sweeper” took centre stage in early October at the 2018 IIEE/RSJ International Conference on Intelligent Robots and Systems in Madrid, Spain, following a successful demonstration in September at the Research Station for Vegetable Production at St Katelijne-Waver in Belgium.

The BGU’s researchers predict robotic harvesting will revolutionise the economics of the agriculture industry and dramatically reduce food waste.

Based upon the latest results, the Sweeper consortium exp-ects that a commercial sweet pepper harvesting robot will be available within four to five years.