Gadgets for humans

Japanese robot uses Microsoft Kinect-like magic to detect and pick ripe fruit


Just recently you may have seen a video demonstrating the Microsoft Kinect’s ability to create real-time 3D imagery. Japan’s National Agriculture and Food Research Organization has apparently taken that a step further. You see, they have created a robot that uses similar technology to determined whether or not a strawberry is ripe and if it is, pluck it effortlessly from its branch.

However, Farmers around the world shouldn’t be sweating bullets just yet because it’s just a prototype. But boy, is it a cool one.

Here’s how it works. The robot uses two cameras to create a 3D image of the strawberry. From there, it’s able to detect whether or not the fruit is ripe by measuring its color and if the strawberry is red enough (it must be 80% red), the robot picks the strawberry from the stalk in about 9 second without any collateral damage.

So, just how useful is this thing?

Well, CrunchGear puts it into perspective. While it would take a normal human 500 hours to pick every strawberry in a 1000 sq meter field, these robots would be able to finish the job in 300.

Pretty impressive stuff and certainly a more welcomed addition to the robot world than those German robots that can design and mutate all by themselves. That’s just down right scary.

For more gear, gadget, and hardware news and reviews, follow Plugged on Twitter and Flipboard.

Published December 2, 2010 — 01:34 UTC