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Bob Larson Robotic Apple Pickers Pt 2
by Bob Larson, click here for bio

Program: Fruit Grower Report
Date: July 04, 2017

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With today’s Fruit Grower Report, I’m Bob Larson. Ripped from the script of the next blockbuster movie, robots continue to take over jobs previously held by mere mortals.

It’s nothing new in agriculture with the development of such mechanized marvels like the tractor and combine.

One of the latest creations, coming soon to an orchard near you, is the Robotic Apple Picker …

DAN STEERE-7 = 22 … “Yes, this is new types of automation that’s coming into jobs which just, in the past, weren’t possible to automate and, not for lack of trying. People have been trying to come up with ways to automate fruit harvest for many decades. It’s just that apples are delicate and trees, you can’t just cut a tree down and throw away parts that you don’t want, like if you’re harvesting corn. So, it’s a hard problem.”

Dan Steere, CEO of California-based Abundant Robotics says their Robotic Picker will change the look of orchards at harvest time …

DAN STEERE-5 = 28 … “Well, it certainly depends on the size of the orchard obviously. But, we’re not ready to release the commercial specs, but basically we’re talking about building a machine that in one day would do the equivalent work to tens of people. So, a machine that can be quite a bit more productive than a person, And, given the size of commercial orchards, you would expect to see multiple machines working in these large orchards at a time.

Steere says they’ve been testing the Robotic Pickers for the past four years and, while it’s still too soon to say for sure, have a goal of putting them in orchards commercially as soon as next year.

Steere says once they get the apple harvested established, they see working to develop robotic harvesters for other tree fruit as well.

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