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Robot Uses Fake Raspberry to Practice Picking Fruit

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Lab equipment with the raspberry mockup.

A growing number of farmers are interested in using robots for time-intensive tasks such as harvesting strawberries, sweet peppers, apples, lettuce, and tomatoes.

Credit: EPFL Create

Scientists at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, Lausanne (EPFL) Computational Robot Design & Fabrication Laboratory engineered a robot that practiced raspberry-picking on a silicone raspberry mockup with an artificial stem to ensure it learned how to handle the fragile fruit.

The researchers said the stem "can 'tell' the robot how much pressure is being applied, both while the fruit is still attached to the receptacle and after it's been released."

Experiments showed the robot could harvest 60% of the fruits while keeping them intact versus the human average of 90%.

An improved raspberry model could help enhance the robot's performance, while an extended setting that simulates "environmental conditions such as lighting, temperature, and humidity could further close the Lab2Field reality gap," according to the researchers.

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