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British lettuce harvesting robot

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A UK research team of agricultural and mechanical engineers is developing a lettuce harvesting robot that uses machine vision and artificial intelligence to determine the intersection of the stem.

The team is working on a project funded by Innovate UK and involves researchers from the Grimme agricultural machinery company, the Agri-EPI Centre in Edinburgh, Harper Adams University in Newport, the Machine Vision Centre at the University of the West of England in Bristol and two UK salad producers, G’s Fresh and PDM Produce.

Existing machines have been retrofitted with cameras, machine vision and artificial intelligence technology.

Existing leek harvesting machines have been modified to lift lettuce off the ground and squeeze it between the stalks. The outer, or “wrapper” leaves of the lettuce are removed mechanically to expose the stem.

The system is equipped with Imaging Development Systems (IDS) camera systems, and then machine vision and artificial intelligence systems are used to identify the exact cut point on the stem to ensure the lettuce head is cleanly detached.

“According to team members at G subsidiary Salad Harvesting Services, the iceberg cutting process is the most technically complex step of the process to automate,” explained Rob Webb of IDS’ product sales team.

“The prototype harvesting robot under construction features a GigE Vision camera from the uEye FA family. This is said to be particularly robust, making it ideal for demanding environments. As it is an outdoor application, a housing with IP65/67 protection is required.”

The prototype of the robotic mower will be used for field testing in England towards the end of the season.

Source: https://www.roboticsandinnovation.co.uk/news/agriculture/uk-based-team-develops-ai-powered-lettuce-harvesting-solution.html