Will robots be the answer to labour shortages on farms?
Last week a startup based at Plymouth University unveiled the world’s first raspberry-picking robot. The machine can pick about 25,000 berries a day, which is 10,000 more than a human during an eight-hour shift. Raspberries are particularly challenging for machines to harvest because the robots have to identify ripe fruit and handle the soft berries without damaging them. The firm intends to lease the robots to farmers at a rate that would undercut the cost of employing human fruit pickers.
Fieldwork Robotics is developing and commercialising the work of Dr Martin Stoelen of the University of Plymouth. It has attracted strong industry interest in its robot technology to harvest soft fruit and vegetables. The company has signed a collaboration agreement with Hall Hunter Partnership, a leading UK soft fruit grower. Frontier IP is supporting the company by playing an active role in developing the technology to meet industry needs. As at 15th November 2018, Frontier IP Group Plc (LON:FIPP) have a 27.50% holding in Fieldwork Robotics.