There is now a new and exciting opportunity:

Some startups are already up and running. For example:
Dogtooth technologies
Who are already using technology licensed from ST Robotics.
Agrobot, also strawberry picking. Rather big!
Four Growers working out of Carnegie Mellon University (PA, USA). They have had an ST robot for evaluation.
Apple picking already available
Weeding and fertilising in Australia
Cambridge Consultants have used an ST robot to develop a gripper and vision which will recognize the type of fruit being picked up. Although real life applications have only one product it is the vision that can tell the robot where to pick and whether the fruit is ready.

And we are now working with a University on a project to automate picking cucumbers.
Here's work at University of Cambridge

As much as 60% of the total cost of producing fruit is in the harvesting.
A few robot companies are now already working in the field (pun not intended):
the harvesting robot early adopter market is now worth 5.5 billion
future farming


We have put together a team to develop a practical robotic harvesting system. We have bright young engineers and programmers balanced by the founder's years of experience.
This is a major industry of the future and as you have seen above, some teams and investors have already got started. We are working with is asparagus.
powerpoint
Video

The Asparacut robot



How it works:
The robot guides itself between the asparagus beds. It views the bed on one side through twin cameras that provide data on 2D position and size. The robot knows where it is at all times and never gets lost. The user interface includes the ability for the grower to set criteria for example not to cut any spears below a certain height etc. The AI system then learns from the operator which spears to cut, reject and so on and can eventually do the harvesting autonomously without operator intervention.


click image for clip of first navigation test.