(Natural News) Are robots going to replace humans in strawberry picking too? Scientists are developing robot strawberry pickers as a solution to the shortage of workers due to Brexit. Because of the lack of workers, nearly 20 percent of soft fruits like strawberries are being wasted as they are not being harvested, according to researchers at the University of Essex in the U.K.
The scientists aim to develop a robot that can recognize strawberries and work in natural, unstructured environments where they can pick, inspect, and pack fruits. Robots have been a great help for repetitive work on a production line. However, creating a machine that works like human strawberry pickers is challenging.
Robots must learn how to recognize strawberries and pick them without damaging them. But all strawberries are different in terms of shapes, sizes, and order of ripeness – which make it more difficult for robots to recognize strawberries. In addition, strawberries are mostly hidden by foliage and the environment constantly changes, unlike the typical industrial environment. (Related: Robotics revolution to replace most human workers in three generations; labor class to be systematically eliminated.)
“Fruit picking may seem a simple task but picking the fruit without touching the berry will be a challenge. We need to ensure that the fruit we grow always arrives with the customer in perfect condition,” said Andrey Ivanov, manager of Wilkin and Sons farm in Essex, England.
The scientists hope that the robots will be able to work together with humans in a farm environment and also help cut production costs.
The University of Essex researchers are also working together with farmers and jam makers Tiptree, Essex to finish a prototype of the robot. The scientists revealed that a prototype of the robot is expected to be ready within a few months and it will be able to pick low hanging strawberries. Then, they will start to work on bi-manual robotic coordination, which will work similarly on how humans pick with two hands and will have active vision to help identify strawberries hidden by foliage. After this, they will develop later versions that will learn to work against changing environmental conditions.
The demand for strawberries has increased over the past 20 years, but the number of human strawberry workers are starting to decline – and will continue to decline in the coming years.
The health benefits of eating strawberries
Strawberries are probably one of the most popular fruits. They are delicious, refreshing, and healthy. Here are five reasons why strawberries are good for you:
- Strawberries are rich in antioxidants – Strawberries are packed with antioxidants that eliminate toxins in the body. In turn, this prevents or delays certain types of cell damage and diseases.
- Strawberries help lower high blood sugar levels – Although strawberries are sweet, they actually help regulate blood sugar spikes. Research has estimated that eating a cup of fresh strawberries can greatly lower high blood sugar levels.
- Strawberries fight inflammation – Strawberries have anti-inflammatory properties. Studies have shown that regular consumption of strawberries can reduce inflammatory markers, such as the C-reactive protein.
- Strawberries support heart health – This fruit can ward off cardiovascular problems due to its high amounts of antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties.
- Strawberries improve cognition – An animal study has shown that consuming strawberries can help enhance cognitive and motor function.
Read more news stories and studies on jobs taken over by robots at Robots.news.