Cambridge Firm’s Groundbreaking Raspberry-Picking Robot Secures £600k Government Grant

Fruit picking Robot

Fieldwork Robotics, located in Cambridge, has developed the world’s inaugural raspberry-picking robot. British innovators, leading the charge with this pioneering technology that autonomously harvests raspberries, have been granted an additional £600,000 by the government. This funding is set to bolster the development of Fieldwork’s forthcoming autonomous model, aiming to refine the robot’s AI-driven vision and decision-making prowess.

The £600,000 grant marks the second instance within six months where Fieldwork Robotics has secured government funding. The forthcoming enhancements in the robotic system are poised to amplify its AI functionalities, enabling the robot to operate in a fleet under the supervision of a single operator managing multiple units across the field. This advancement is anticipated to significantly diminish the labour demands of the harvesting process while boosting efficiency.

Historically, the agritech company’s robots have predominantly relied on the human visual spectrum for camera operation, emulating the visual capabilities of human harvesters. The current project, however, is set to integrate technology that leverages wavelengths beyond human visibility. Such technological integration is expected to enhance the robot’s proficiency in crop detection and ripeness assessment, as per Fieldwork’s insights.

The development focus on improving both the vision and decision-making capabilities of the robot aims to elevate its autonomy and efficiency, presenting a viable alternative to manual harvesting. The project aspires to enhance the robots’ decision-making faculties to foster greater autonomy, with the goal of enabling prolonged operational periods with minimal human intervention, thereby rendering the robots more cost-effective and efficient.

Martin Stoelen, the founder of Fieldwork Robotics, emphasised the critical nature of autonomy in scaling the company’s solutions. “The amalgamation of these two pivotal advancements in software development – superior vision and enhanced autonomous decision-making – is set to render Fieldwork’s technology an even more attractive proposition for growers,” he stated. The company is on course to conclude field trials in the forthcoming quarter, with anticipation building around the practical applications of their technology.

The £600,000 grant was conferred by Defra and Innovate UK, underscoring the project’s significance and potential impact on the agricultural sector.

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