Many crops are relatively easy to harvest mechanically. For sturdier produce, such as potatoes or wheat, machines have been assisting with the harvesting task, but when it comes to the iceberg lettuce, with its soft leaves and low-lying profile, it has proven exceptionally difficult to create a harvesting machine to assist or take over from human laborers.
Now, the “Vegebot,” as it has been aptly dubbed, can autonomously identify and harvest iceberg lettuce, thanks to the creation of the team at Cambridge University.
Working closely with “G’s Growers,” a local fruit and vegetable co-operative, the team has successfully carried out tests of the Vegebot in the field. Up until Monday, the Vegebot was only operating in the lab.
“Every field is different, every lettuce is different,” said co-author of the research, Simon Birrell of Cambridge University’s Engineering department. Birrell continued “But if we can make a robotic harvester work with iceberg lettuce, we could also make it work with many other crops.”
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