AI News, Lightweight robots harvest cucumbers

Lightweight robots harvest cucumbers

In Germany, cucumbers destined for pickle jars are harvested by hand with the aid of 'cucumber flyers' -- farm vehicles with wing-like attachments.

Even in adverse weather, it would need to be capable of first identifying ripe cucumbers and then using its two gripper arms to gently pick and store them.

To this end, cutting-edge control methods equip the robot with tactile perception and enable it to adapt to ambient conditions.

High success rate It is a considerable challenge to design autonomous systems capable of optical and tactile sensing, assessing and evaluating.

It should be possible to use multispectral cameras and intelligent image processing to help locate cucumbers and guide the robot's gripper arms to pluck them.

A special camera system helps ensure that the robot detects and locates approximately 95 percent of cucumbers, an impressive success rate.

In search of human inspiration The IPK project experts are tasked with developing three gripper prototypes: a gripper based on vacuum technology, a set of bionic gripper jaws (Fin Ray®) and a customized 'cucumber hand' based on OpenBionics robot hands.

They are relying on insights acquired during a previous European research project, in which they developed a dual-arm robot control system with efficient task-oriented programming for Workerbot I -- a humanoid robot capable of industrial assembly.

Dr. Dragoljub Surdilovic, a scientist at Fraunhofer IPK, explains: 'The robot can, for example, push leaves to the side using symmetrical or asymmetrical movements, or congruent and incongruent movements.

The researchers' goal is to create an intelligent control system capable of making judgment calls: assigning a certain task to a certain gripper arm, monitoring cucumber picking and dealing with exceptions.

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