Autonomous robots to support fruit picking

Lead Participant: Saga Robotics Limited

Abstract

We estimate that the UK soft fruit sector employs over 35,000 fruit pickers each day. The roles are low skilled and the sector has a high reliance on EU migrants to fill these posts. The impact of Brexit, plus labour inflation through the national living wage legislation poses a serious and direct threat to the whole sector. The need to drive productivity in the sector is urgent. Of the picking costs we estimate that 30% are for the pickers to simply carry picked fruit from within a greenhouse to an on farm logistics hub. We aim to eliminate or dramatically reduce this cost by developing an autonomous robot which can find a picker and transport picked fruit and empty trays around a farm. The robot will be autonomous, have the capacity to map its environment and to find and safely interact with a picker. The key innovation will be the development of autonomous systems which can work safely and over long periods of time in a complex farm environment. The need to drive productivity in the agri-food sector is a global challenge. This project will directly stimulate new markets and supply chains in the production of advanced autonomous systems to support agricultural producers.

Lead Participant

Project Cost

Grant Offer

Saga Robotics Limited £741,046 £ 518,732
 

Participant

University of Lincoln, United Kingdom £361,041 £ 361,041
Berry Gardens Growers Limited, Tonbridge, UNITED KINGDOM £163,334 £ 81,667

Publications

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