Robot Apple Pickers Pt 1

Robot Apple Pickers Pt 1

Bob Larson
Bob Larson
With today's Fruit Grower Report, I'm Bob Larson. As the old saying goes, the only constant is change. And, nowhere will that be more evident in the very near future than in Washington orchards where Robotic Pickers will soon be replacing the humans.

Abundant Robotics CEO Dan Steere says his company's robotic picker is well into its development ...

STEERE ... "We've been working on engineering a harvester that can pick fruit with basically no more than the same damage level that people wind up with when they're picking fruit."

Steere says you can find his people in some orchard, somewhere in Washington, testing these Robotic Pickers throughout harvest season...

STEERE ... "The results we've seen have been very encouraging. So, we've shown that we can drive into an orchard row, we can identify fruit, we can pick it at damage levels that are comparable to people, and then make sure that we handle it the right way into a bin. So, we think we've demonstrated in the field all the capabilities we need to build a successful commercial harvester. And that's what we're doing now. We're designing and preparing that commercial system to come to market."

Steere says if you know the history of American farming, these changes are only natural ...

STEERE ... "That's just the continuation of a trend that's gone on for a couple hundred years, or more, that really has benefited everybody. So, we haven't run into significant resistance to this type of automation that's coming along."

Abundant's robotic picker uses a vacuum system to suck the apples from the tree.

Listen tomorrow for more on the operation and expectations of the Robotic Pickers.


BL: Welcome back to another "Fruit Bites" brought to you by Valent U.S.A. Kind enough to join us once again is Valent's Allison Walston. And this week Allison, let's have a conversation about food.

AW: Americans today are very disconnected from farms and the agricultural practices that sustain us.

BL: How so?

AW: The average American is over 3 generations removed from the farm. And currently, less than 2% of the population is involved with farming. Food has a vital role in our lives and almost 13% of household expenditures are on food.

BL: The internet floods the web with marketing tools aimed to confuse and scare. How can we promote dialogue to help consumers make more informed decisions about food?

AW: That's a great question. Determine a trustworthy resource. University, Extension, your neighborhood entomologist. Encourage people to grow their own food and see how hard it can be. Can you imagine trying to feed your town, state, country, & world? By growing food, you gain knowledge and food empathy.

BL: Well, thanks Allison. Join us again next time for Fruit Bites, brought to you by Valent. Until then, I'm Bob Larson.

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