Connected Robotics technology used to modernize harvesting
Fieldwork Robotics is developing novel robotics for harvesting soft fruit and vegetables to improve the efficiency of agriculture and address the long-term structural decline in agricultural labour worldwide. The University of Plymouth spin out’s technology is designed to be flexible, with robots able to be adapted for different crops by changing the software algorithms and tools at the end of the harvesting arms. Its initial focus is on raspberries because they are more challenging to harvest than other soft fruits, being more delicate and easily damaged and grow on bushes with complex foliage and berry distributions.
Initial field trials of a raspberry harvesting robot were completed in 2019 at the Company’s industry partner Hall Hunter Partnership, paving the way for the system to be adapted for other soft fruits and vegetables. The Company, together with the University of Plymouth, is also developing proof-of-concept robots for other crops following interest from leading agribusinesses. Fieldwork was incorporated to develop and commercialise the work of Dr Martin Stoelen, who splits his work between the University of Plymouth, where he lectures in robotics and leads the Soft and Adaptive Robotics lab, and as an Associate Professor at the Western Norway University of Applied Sciences. Dr Stoelen has also led projects to develop a cauliflower harvesting robot systems and a tomato picker, a project run in partnership with the Shanghai Jiao Tong University.