Will this fruit-picking robot transform agriculture?
Will this fruit-picking robot transform agriculture? Creating a machine that can perform the delicate work of picking an apple is tricky – and farmworkers say it could be a benefit by Jyoti Madhusoodanan Sat 28 May 2022 05.30 EDT Robots can do a lot. They build cars in factories. They sort goods in Amazon warehouses. Robotic dogs can, allegedly and a little creepily, make us safer by patrolling our streets. But there are some things robots still cannot do – things that sound quite basic in comparison. Like picking an apple from a tree. “It’s a simple thing” for humans, says robotics researcher Joe Davidson. “You and I, we could close our eyes, reach into the tree. We could feel around, touch it, and say ‘hey, that’s an apple and the stem’s up here’. Pull, twist. We could do all that without even looking.” Creating a robotic implement that can simply pick an apple and drop it into a bin without damaging it is a multimillion-dollar effort that has been decades in the making. Teams aroun