FRUIT-picking robots could soon serve up the strawberries enjoyed by Wimbledon tennis fans every summer.
Each of the stocky machines can collect 11,000 strawberries a day, while the average human picks around 1,500 over eight hours.
5 This robot can pick strawberries at seven times faster than a personCredit: Octinion
Produced by Belgian tech firm Octinion, Rubion picks and packages a ripe strawberry once every five seconds using a delicate clasping mechanism.
From beneath, the bot grabs individual strawberries grown in raised bedding a few feet off the floor.
It can sort the fruits by size or weight and pack into punnets as it goes along.
Octinion founder and CEO Dr Tom Coen said: “The picking of soft fruits with machines has always been tricky given that they are so easy to get squashed and the sensitivity needed to discern whether a fruit was ripe or rotten, simply wasn’t there.”
5 Each Rubion can collect 11,000 strawberries a dayCredit: Octinion
5 From beneath, the bot grabs individual strawberries grown in raised bedding a few feet off the floorCredit: Octinion
“However, Rubion, our autonomous strawberry-picking robot is a novel way around this problem. It is comparable to a human in many ways: the robot only picks the finest fresh, red berries and will not bruise or hurt the strawberries in any way.”
One Rubion can deliver up to 360 kilos every single day – seven times more than the average human picker, who can manage around 50 kilos in a day.
According to Octinion’s engineers, a team of the automatons could one day feed the hungry masses at Wimbledon.
Fans polish off an astonishing 34,000 kilos of strawberries every year at the tournament, but it would take just 14 of these new robots less than a week to meet this demand.
Unveiled by its creators today, Rubion is just a prototype for now, but could one day be rolled out to fruit farms across the globe.
The bot locate fruit using laser sensors to detect the wavelengths of light, or the ‘signatures’, given off by a ripe, red strawberry.
“Just like you know what a plump, juicy red strawberry looks like,” said Octinion co-founder Dr Jan Anthonis.
5 Rubion can sort the fruits by size or weight and pack into punnets as it goes alongCredit: Octinion
“Rubion can do this mathematically, looking for the infrared signatures given off from a perfect fruit.”
The robots are set to tackle the problems within the farming industry, as they battle rising labour costs and shortages of seasonal workers because of Brexit.
The British Summer Fruits body said growers were 30 per cent short of pickers last summer.
The National Farmers’ Union has recorded more than 6,000 unfilled vacancies on farms so far this year.
5 Robots could soon pick fruit for the hungry masses at WimbledonCredit: PA:Press Association
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Nasa recently cancelled its first all-female spacewalk because it didn’t have enough spacesuits that fit.
The space agency was also accused of hiding something after it released blurred out pictures of a new rocket destined for Mars.
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