Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


UK scientists developing intelligent harvesting robot to save farms up to £100,000 a year

Researchers at the National Physical Laboratory (NPL) in Teddington have developed imaging technology to be used in an intelligent harvesting machine that could minimise wastage and solve an impending labour shortage for UK farmers.

Annual waste for certain crops can be up to 60% - which can mean up to £100,000 of lost revenue for an average farm every year, according to farmers who were consulted during research. Falling number of migrant labourers means that healthy crops cannot be gathered and so farms are losing crops due to harvesting at the wrong time.

NPL 's scientists are working with KMS projects and Vegetable Harvesting Systems (VHS) to turn the technology into an intelligent harvesting machine, which can look beneath the leafy layers of a crop, identify the differing materials, and enable precise size identification. This can be used to develop a fully automated harvesting robot, which would be able to fill the gap left by the labour shortage.

The most appropriate technologies to use are radio frequencies, microwaves, terahertz and the far-infra red. These four parts of the electromagnetic spectrum all have potential to safely penetrate the crop layers and identify the size of the harvestable material for a relatively low cost. NPL has developed a methodology for crop identification and selection focusing on cauliflower crops, one of the hardest crops to measure due to the large amount of leafage that covers the vegetable.

The researchers at NPL began by modifying microwave measurement systems to measure a cauliflowers structure. A series of measurements made on real crops in the laboratory and field enabled a statistical range of measurements for precise size identification. This data is then designed into an algorithm to enable a simple size indication from a raw measurement with uncertainties. The final technology will be developed for a first generation harvester and tested in a real farming environment.

A successful demonstration of the imaging technology was given recently at the Fanuc Robotics site in Coventry, showing its huge potential for the harvesting of cauliflowers, lettuces and other similar crops. This has attracted further commercial support from G's, one of the largest lettuces grower in the UK, to take the project forward and develop the complete product, which could be available as early as next year.

Project Lead, Dr Richard Dudley, at NPL said:

"The farming industry does not have access to equipment or the skills required to operate in these parts of the electromagnetic spectrum, few places do. That is why KMS Projects and VHS came to NPL to utilise the world class expertise and equipment that we have on site to try and address this problem. Our aim is to develop a unique new automated harvesting machine that will dramatically improve productivity in the UK and global farming industry and ultimately benefit consumers through cheaper food in the supermarkets."

David Lewis | EurekAlert!
Further information:

More articles from Physics and Astronomy:

nachricht Scientists discover particles similar to Majorana fermions
25.10.2016 | Chinese Academy of Sciences Headquarters

nachricht Light-driven atomic rotations excite magnetic waves
24.10.2016 | Max-Planck-Institut für Struktur und Dynamik der Materie

All articles from Physics and Astronomy >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Etching Microstructures with Lasers

Ultrafast lasers have introduced new possibilities in engraving ultrafine structures, and scientists are now also investigating how to use them to etch microstructures into thin glass. There are possible applications in analytics (lab on a chip) and especially in electronics and the consumer sector, where great interest has been shown.

This new method was born of a surprising phenomenon: irradiating glass in a particular way with an ultrafast laser has the effect of making the glass up to a...

Im Focus: Light-driven atomic rotations excite magnetic waves

Terahertz excitation of selected crystal vibrations leads to an effective magnetic field that drives coherent spin motion

Controlling functional properties by light is one of the grand goals in modern condensed matter physics and materials science. A new study now demonstrates how...

Im Focus: New 3-D wiring technique brings scalable quantum computers closer to reality

Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo led the development of a new extensible wiring technique capable of controlling superconducting quantum bits, representing a significant step towards to the realization of a scalable quantum computer.

"The quantum socket is a wiring method that uses three-dimensional wires based on spring-loaded pins to address individual qubits," said Jeremy Béjanin, a PhD...

Im Focus: Scientists develop a semiconductor nanocomposite material that moves in response to light

In a paper in Scientific Reports, a research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute describes a novel light-activated phenomenon that could become the basis for applications as diverse as microscopic robotic grippers and more efficient solar cells.

A research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has developed a revolutionary, light-activated semiconductor nanocomposite material that can be used...

Im Focus: Diamonds aren't forever: Sandia, Harvard team create first quantum computer bridge

By forcefully embedding two silicon atoms in a diamond matrix, Sandia researchers have demonstrated for the first time on a single chip all the components needed to create a quantum bridge to link quantum computers together.

"People have already built small quantum computers," says Sandia researcher Ryan Camacho. "Maybe the first useful one won't be a single giant quantum computer...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

Agricultural Trade Developments and Potentials in Central Asia and the South Caucasus

14.10.2016 | Event News

World Health Summit – Day Three: A Call to Action

12.10.2016 | Event News

Latest News

Ice shelf vibrations cause unusual waves in Antarctic atmosphere

25.10.2016 | Earth Sciences

Fluorescent holography: Upending the world of biological imaging

25.10.2016 | Power and Electrical Engineering

Etching Microstructures with Lasers

25.10.2016 | Process Engineering

More VideoLinks >>>