“Robots may be the future, but it will be a long time before they can pick strawberries.”

“Robots may be the future, but it will be a long time before they can pick strawberries.”

“Robots will play a vital role in the future of agriculture,” says Pål Johan From. With the problems that strawberries and almost all sectors are currently facing, the focus is increasingly on automation and robotics. So too, at the International Strawberry Conference 2022. There, Mn, founder of the Norwegian company Saga Robotics, gave participants a glimpse into the future of robotics and described its need. However, in some areas, the regular use of robots is still elusive.

Pal Johan from.

The current macroeconomic situation creates many challenges for the strawberry sector. Agriculture prices are constantly rising, fertilizer is getting more expensive, energy costs are rising, more expensive, but especially scarce labor causes many problems. The world population also continues to increase annually. This means that we have to produce more food with fewer available resources.

“In addition, recruitment agencies are increasingly having to deal with food industry workers who have ‘boring and repetitive’ tasks. We have to find a solution,” continues. Aside from finding workers for farmers, robots play an essential role. The Robotic Highways Project estimated that robots could eventually help reduce the number of human farm workers needed by 40%.

Saga Robotics, founded in 2016, is working on “Thorvald”. A team is designing a wide range of tools for this field robot, with the current focus on developing a UV treatment against powdery mildew in strawberries and wine grapes. “The strawberry sector, however, uses almost no robots. People are increasingly realizing that there is a need.”

“This is why startups are emerging like mushrooms. However, it is still a challenge: a lot of bots are not mature or reliable enough to use. Thus, many companies are not focusing on simple, repetitive work; they are trying to use bots to solve problems. “The most difficult,” explains From.

“We went through a trial-and-error phase with our autonomous and sustainable field robot. It uses ultraviolet light to protect crops. The robot’s high frequency and reliability have since allowed us to build a trusted reputation with our crop protection partners. Where the robots operate, they are constantly collecting data that is used to develop intelligence. artificial intelligence to make robots safer.”

“However, this requires a lot of work and patience. So to protect the crops, we are at that point where robots can take the entire work out of the hands of farmers. Robots can drive themselves through tunnels or fields. But, this is something out of reach when it comes to harvesting strawberries,” says Pål Johan.


“There is still a long way to go before the harvester.”
Why does it take so long to develop a strawberry harvesting robot? “The biggest reason is simply that robots are still too slow compared to humans,” says Froome. “Plus many of the prototypes leave a lot to be desired, in terms of quality. However, most research focuses on innovations in certain areas only.”

“Those that involve little or no human labor but less so on ‘smaller’ tasks. So the harvest of robots is not even close to the speed of humans. I doubt that will ever happen, but it is up to us to get close. Robots should be as well. And at attractive prices, too, before farmers even use them. It’s a long and difficult process, but it’s coming.”

“Technology allows robots to take on an ever-increasing number of many of the tasks of a farming company. This saves time and resources to focus on those jobs that require human participation. The results support us; our clients save significant time and labor costs and have improved returns. It is an inevitable future path, but it requires some Be patient for now. But make no mistake, change is coming,” from the conclusion.

Click here to view the photo report of the International Strawberry Conference.

for more information:
Pal Johan from
Saga Robotics
website: www.sagarobotics.com

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