Say Hello to The Tomato Picking Robots

Say Hello to The Tomato Picking Robots

Robots are being used for so many exciting things in this world. They are being developed for search and rescue, for medical use, as carers, in industry and, unfortunately for military use as well. However, there are some ways they can be so useful that is not quite so exciting but still is very important, which is why tomato picking robots have been developed. Farmers in the US have a big labor problem at harvest time. This has been made worse by the lack of H2B visas and a population that is aging and no longer has the strength to do such physical work. This will result in harvests being lost, which is not only a disaster for the farm’s but will affect the whole of the food chain.
If a product becomes scarce, consumers will have to pay a premium for it. When prices go up in the shops, some people will no longer be able to afford to buy fresh food and that will affect the health of the nation. From that one shortage of labor, the whole population of the US could be adversely affected.

Virgo, One of  the Tomato Picking Robots

Virgo is a self-driving robot developed by Root AI, which is a new startup in Massachusetts. Virgo can pick tomatoes without bruising them and has a much better idea than humans of when they are ripe. It has a dexterous arm that moves gently between the rows of tomatoes. It is gentle enough to work alongside humans and can increase the productivity levels a great deal. It can also pick tomatoes on its own without any human intervention.
Virgo’s fingers are made from a food-safe plastic that is quite flexible and easy to clean. The developers have said that this is a vitally important trait, as they cannot risk cross infection from a bad tomato.

Managing diseases is something that farmers are used to, and it is something the developers are very aware of. A spokesperson said that if you touched mold or a virus with your hands, you would wash them without hesitation. The same needs to be done for the fingers of the tomato picking robots or all the good work it is doing could be undone.
The beauty of this very special robot is that it does not have to just harvest tomatoes. Robot AI can write new software to suit most crops and add any additional sensors or grippers that are needed.

It can wander around greenhouses all night long without needing any heat or light. It can work outside as well as inside and is probably the most versatile of all the harvesting robots that are appearing on the market at the present time. Virgo has already been tested in the US and Canada and has attracted funding from some large companies. It is expected to be available commercially as from next year.

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