Robotic broccoli harvester in field tests in Quebec
September 22, 2021 By Fruit and Vegetable
Lapalme Agtech, in partnership with INO and the CRVI (Centre de robotique et de vision industrielle), is developing a smart robot to automate the harvesting of broccoli out in the fields. This robot will be on the job at market gardens throughout September in Montérégie and Lanaudière, Que. The labour shortage has hit Quebec farmers harder than ever, making robotic harvesters an attractive option.
The equipment, called the SAMI 4.0 (French acronym for Intelligent, Multifunctional Agricultural System), uses a vision system relying on artificial intelligence to detect, position, and qualify broccoli and to verify the trajectory of robots to automatically harvest the plants – or not – based on their maturity. Eventually, it will be able to perform the tasks of the now increasingly scarce farm hands.
In September, SAMI 4.0 will be on the job in the fields at partner farms in Montérégie and Lanaudière for demonstrations of the equipment in action. The exact dates of harvest will be confirmed when the weather conditions are right.
“Everywhere you look, automation is gaining traction and is boosting the competitiveness of businesses. Today marks the arrival of agriculture into the industry 4.0 era,” says Éric Lapalme, president of Lapalme Agtech, in a press release.
“The COVID-19 pandemic showed us just how fragile supply chains are, revealed the chronic lack of workers, and proved we need to grow more locally. This technology is a step in the right direction and a giant leap forward for agriculture,” adds Alain Chandonnet, CEO of INO, in a press release.
SAMI 4.0 was designed for use in a variety of fruit and vegetable crops. In addition to harvesting, SAMI 4.0 is capable of inspecting, sorting and boxing fruits and vegetables, as well as putting those boxes in a pallet and the pallets on a trailer, according to Lapalme Agtech’s website.
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