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California's Strawberry Fields May Not Be Forever. Could Robots Help?

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A robot makes its way between rows of plants on hydroponic tabletops.

Credit: Al Seib/Los Angeles Times

With climate change, water rights, changing chemical regimes, and other factors threatening the future of California's strawberry industry, some experts see agricultural robots as necessary for keeping the sector afloat.

Agricultural robot startup Tortuga AgTech makes robots that harvest berries by combining an articulated arm, sensors, and machine vision software.

The harvesters are deployed at a farm in Santa Maria, CA, where the crop is arranged on hydroponic tabletops, reducing exposure to the elements while simplifying berry-picking.

Also appealing to farmers are the robots' increased reliability and potential to boost cost-efficiency over time.

"We want to accelerate the adoption of tabletop and controlled-environment growing, and help these farms succeed," said Tortuga's Eric Adamson.

From The Los Angeles Times
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