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

13.08.2009
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:
http://www.npl.co.uk

More articles from Physics and Astronomy:

nachricht Taking a spin on plasma space tornadoes with NASA observations
20.11.2017 | NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center

nachricht NASA detects solar flare pulses at Sun and Earth
17.11.2017 | NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center

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: A “cosmic snake” reveals the structure of remote galaxies

The formation of stars in distant galaxies is still largely unexplored. For the first time, astron-omers at the University of Geneva have now been able to closely observe a star system six billion light-years away. In doing so, they are confirming earlier simulations made by the University of Zurich. One special effect is made possible by the multiple reflections of images that run through the cosmos like a snake.

Today, astronomers have a pretty accurate idea of how stars were formed in the recent cosmic past. But do these laws also apply to older galaxies? For around a...

Im Focus: Visual intelligence is not the same as IQ

Just because someone is smart and well-motivated doesn't mean he or she can learn the visual skills needed to excel at tasks like matching fingerprints, interpreting medical X-rays, keeping track of aircraft on radar displays or forensic face matching.

That is the implication of a new study which shows for the first time that there is a broad range of differences in people's visual ability and that these...

Im Focus: Novel Nano-CT device creates high-resolution 3D-X-rays of tiny velvet worm legs

Computer Tomography (CT) is a standard procedure in hospitals, but so far, the technology has not been suitable for imaging extremely small objects. In PNAS, a team from the Technical University of Munich (TUM) describes a Nano-CT device that creates three-dimensional x-ray images at resolutions up to 100 nanometers. The first test application: Together with colleagues from the University of Kassel and Helmholtz-Zentrum Geesthacht the researchers analyzed the locomotory system of a velvet worm.

During a CT analysis, the object under investigation is x-rayed and a detector measures the respective amount of radiation absorbed from various angles....

Im Focus: Researchers Develop Data Bus for Quantum Computer

The quantum world is fragile; error correction codes are needed to protect the information stored in a quantum object from the deteriorating effects of noise. Quantum physicists in Innsbruck have developed a protocol to pass quantum information between differently encoded building blocks of a future quantum computer, such as processors and memories. Scientists may use this protocol in the future to build a data bus for quantum computers. The researchers have published their work in the journal Nature Communications.

Future quantum computers will be able to solve problems where conventional computers fail today. We are still far away from any large-scale implementation,...

Im Focus: Wrinkles give heat a jolt in pillared graphene

Rice University researchers test 3-D carbon nanostructures' thermal transport abilities

Pillared graphene would transfer heat better if the theoretical material had a few asymmetric junctions that caused wrinkles, according to Rice University...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Ecology Across Borders: International conference brings together 1,500 ecologists

15.11.2017 | Event News

Road into laboratory: Users discuss biaxial fatigue-testing for car and truck wheel

15.11.2017 | Event News

#Berlin5GWeek: The right network for Industry 4.0

30.10.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Antarctic landscape insights keep ice loss forecasts on the radar

20.11.2017 | Earth Sciences

Filling the gap: High-latitude volcanic eruptions also have global impact

20.11.2017 | Earth Sciences

Water world

20.11.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>