Science

Now, you can harvest your lettuce with this ‘Vegebot’

PTI London | Updated on July 08, 2019 Published on July 08, 2019

The Vegebot harvesting system, shown undergoing field experiments   -  Source:wileyonlinelibrary.com

It uses machine learning to go about its work

Cambridge scientists have developed a vegetable-picking robot that uses machine learning to identify and harvest a commonplace but challenging agricultural crop.

Machine learning is an application of artificial intelligence (AI) that provides systems the ability to automatically learn and improve from experience without being explicitly programmed.

The ‘Vegebot’, developed by a team at the University of Cambridge in the UK, was initially trained to recognise and harvest iceberg lettuce in a lab setting. It has now been successfully tested in a variety of field conditions in cooperation with a local fruit and vegetable co-operative, according to a study published in The Journal of Field Robotics.

Robotics in agriculture

Although the prototype is nowhere near as fast or efficient as a human worker, it demonstrates how the use of robotics in agriculture may be expanded, even for crops like iceberg lettuce which are particularly challenging to harvest mechanically.

Crops such as potatoes and wheat have been harvested mechanically at scale for decades, but many other crops have to date resisted automation. Iceberg lettuce is one such crop.

Published on July 08, 2019
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