A major advance in robotics has just been announced by the firm Cambridge Consultants: a robot capable of picking fruit individually. According to the company responsible for the development of this product, this advance should improve productivity from fields to warehouses.
The company claim that in the near future robots will be capable of carrying out more complex tasks: they will be able to pick up and sort irregular objects such as fruits and vegetables, or, according to the firm, remove certain weeds from a field of crops.
Chris Roberts, head of the industrial robotics division at Cambridge Consultants, commented that “Traditional robots struggle when it comes to adapting to deal with uncertainty. Our innovative blend of existing technologies and novel signal processing techniques has resulted in a radical new system design that is poised to disrupt the industry.”
Cambridge Consultants claim that even if robots are very efficient when it comes to repeating the same task continuously in a controlled environment, this is not at all the case in a changing environment or when tasks vary, even minutely. Thus, though it is easy for traditional robots and computer systems to control the mounting parts in a car production line, this is definitely not the case when it comes to sorting, picking up and moving fruit and vegetables.
Chris Roberts presented his company’s innovative product, saying “Our team has combined high-powered image-processing algorithms with low-cost sensors and commodity hardware to allow ‘soft’ control of robots when the task is not rigidly defined. The system is capable of handling objects for which no detailed computer-aided design (CAD) model exists – a necessary step to using a robot with natural objects which, although they share some characteristics, are not identical.”
“The robot system demonstrates what is possible when you bring together experts from different fields to solve a problem. We’ve combined our programming, electronics and mechanical engineering expertise with our machine vision and robotics skills to demonstrate the kind of smart system that could transform a variety of industrial and commercial processes. “