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Fruit Loops

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Gaining steam in the US and Brexit-bound Britain, and the ensuing drop in migrant workers interested in doing work that local laborers have tended to pooh-pooh, farmers are having a harder time getting their crops attended to. This provides a fine opening for computer vision-enabled robots. Cambridge, England-based Dogtooth Technologies is working on just such a line of strawberry-picking robots that identify, pick, inspect, and then package or dispose of strawberries while on the job. The inspection is carried out with computer vision cameras that can analyze color, shape, and surface quality of the fruits. Not surprisingly, the process is not only faster than with humans, but also more sanitary, since no disease-bearing hands are involved in the picking. And robots can work 24/7, which enables more fruit to be picked at the right time for longer shelf life. Dogtooth is also working on robo-pickers for raspberries, blackberries, and grapes. With growing labor shortages in these areas, the robotic farmhand solution may prove popular across the globe. “We work with pickers in California who tell us they can’t recruit enough pickers,” Dogtooth’s CEO Dr. Duncan Robertson told the Cambridge Independent. “It’s the same in Europe and even in China.”

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