Researchers at the University of Cambridge in the U.K. have developed a vegetable-picking robot that uses machine learning to identify and harvest iceberg lettuce.
While the prototype, called Vegebot, is not as fast or efficient as a human worker, it demonstrates how the use of robotics in agriculture could be expanded.
Vegebot first identifies the "target" crop within its field of vision. Then, the system determines whether a particular lettuce plant is healthy and ready to be harvested. Finally, the robot cuts the lettuce from the rest of the plant without crushing it so that it is "supermarket ready."
The Vegebot is made up of a computer vision system and a cutting system. An overhead camera takes an image of the lettuce field and identifies all the lettuce plants in the image. Then, it classifies each plant to determine if it is ready for harvest. A second camera is positioned near the cutting blade to ensure a smooth cut.
From University of Cambridge
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