Strawberry-picking robots ease worker shortage during harvest at a Tasmanian fruit farm

robot picking strawberries on a farm

With years of research behind them, fruit farmers are turning to robots to help with harvest amid a human worker shortage.  

Burlington Berries at Cressy, in northern Tasmania, has shipped out a fleet of 16 robots from the UK to help with picking over the summer. The farm trialled its first robot in collaboration with British company Dogtooth Technologies nearly seven years ago.

How do the robots work? They roll on tracks between rows of strawberries grown on tables under poly tunnels. Dozens of cameras are built into them, allowing them to take images of each strawberry. The robots have two arms, which decide if a berry is the right size and shape to pick its stem.

More cameras take a 360-degree image of the berry to determine its ripeness, weight and measure 17 potential defects in the fruit. The strawberry is then placed in a punnet or rejected into a different tray.

These robots also collect data from the images they take, to help with predicting crop yields and the amount of fruit that needs harvesting in the future.

Read more about the strawberry-picking robots here!