If there is one thing that continues to remain as a huge challenge when it comes to robots with hands, it would be this – to be able to know just the right amount of pressure it should apply when carrying a particular item – such as an egg, or perhaps easily bruised fruits like peaches and nectarines. Perhaps there is some light at the end of the tunnel with this new fruit-picking robotic system that makes use of complex signal processing in order to have it pick and sort irregular shaped fruits – all the while without causing any kind of damage to them.
Constructed by development firm Cambridge Consultants, the robot is said to be able to give a boost in terms of productivity across the food chain as it goes about its task of sorting out fruit and vegetables, or perhaps to identify and remove weeds from among crops in a field.
Making use of affordable and common hardware, like Microsoft’s Kinect sensor, the scientists came up with intuitive algorithms in order to provide the robotic system with a cognitive ability that lets it figure out how to handle items in the best manner possible based on their shape and size.
Chris Roberts, head of industrial robotics at Cambridge Consultants, shared, “The gripper has got a sensor inside it so it can sense the pressure of the vacuum tubes as they close around the fruit. And by only applying a vacuum to the ones that gripped, the ones where there’s a seal, we can spread the pressure across the fruit so we’re not bruising it but we still apply a consistent pressure that allows us to pick up heavier objects.”