The agriculture industry is faced with serious problems. The US incurs a $200B loss of fruits and vegetables due to a shortage of migrant workers, especially during the harvest season. Farmers are sometimes made to either abandon the state’s hallmark fruits and vegetables because of losing crops not picked on time or replacing manual labor with machines. All this ultimately hikes the price of vegetables. Even after the use of drones, apps, and sensors, hands and knives still harvest the bulk of the crops. The need-of-the-hour is to bring in technological innovations before it runs out of low-wage immigrant workers.
Traptic develops mainly farming robots that harvest delicate crops. Their pilot commercial robot picker was launched in 2020 when agriculture companies were in dire straits during the pandemic with a shortage of labor. This start-up venture has saved the fruit and vegetable growers in the US from a critical shortage of labor.
According to Traptics statistics, nearly 10% of unpicked strawberries rot in the fields in the US, which amounts to $200 million in waste. Early this month, Traptic has launched its commercial robotic strawberry-picking mobile. The robots enhance human labor strawberry picking by working alongside farmworkers thus filling the gap that exists in farming and also assisting in efficient, high-quality picking at the right time making it cost-effective.
— Traptic (@traptic) July 1, 2021
The robot comprises an off-the-shelf robotic arm housed inside space on a cart surrounded by 5 of 6 sides. Its vision device can spot the strawberry within a millimeter range. It is crucial to differentiate between ripe and unripe strawberries. The robots use neural networks and 3D cameras to do a perfect selection of the right strawberry. The custom gripper has a metal base of claws with rubberized bands that conform to the irregular shapes of the fruit, gently and snuggly removing them from the plant without damaging the fruit.
Traptic has launched its robotic strawberry picker just on time. A heatwave that has happened this week has stifled strawberry harvest picking. Its step into the commercial field opens out a lot more avenues in the future of agricultural production. In the pipeline are commercial robots for other crops like oranges, melons, and peppers from Traptic.