“The robot is doing the job”: Robots help pick strawberries in California amid drought, labour shortage

California produces about 90% of the nation’s strawberries, but severe drought and worker shortages are threatening the fruit. One company is hoping to change that with the power of robots.

Eric Adamson’s company is behind a strawberry robotic revolution. He said they’re programmed to think on their own, with cameras that sense texture and color.

“People think robots have been around forever, but they’re actually very, very new, especially robots that make decisions and are autonomous,” Adamson said.

They work in a hydroponic field, which is a type of farming that can use up to 90% less water than traditional methods.

As good as they are, though, they’re hardly foolproof.

“We expect we’ll make mistakes and we’ll expect things will break,” he said.

Adamson said the robots pick with 95% accuracy.  

And it’s not just the robots that are learning. Jeanpol Rodriguez, who used to work in the fields, now manages the robots picking strawberries. He said he didn’t know anything about robotics before entering this new role.

“The robot is doing the job. I’m like — I’m cool!” Rodriguez told CBS News.

Adamson said this is a  way that “we can create jobs with higher wages and with higher skill development.”

Adamson said his goal is to expand beyond just strawberry picking.

“We hope to have hundreds and hundreds of robots around the world’s leading farms, picking table grapes, peppers, cucumbers, blackberries, raspberries,” he told CBS News.

Source: CBS News

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