In September 2016, Focus announced that the Leuven-based R&D company Octinion would shortly be launching the world’s first sophisticated, autonomous, high-tech and economically viable strawberry-picking robot. This has now come to pass. Robion showed off its capabilities at the Fruit Logistica trade show in Berlin.
And they are quite something. This fine example of innovative, state-of-the-art technology leaves human pickers in the dust. The picking robot can navigate autonomously among the strawberries, choose the ripe ones, pick them at breakneck speed without damaging them, and sort them immediately into their final packaging.
This plays to market requirements and could also help mitigate the shortage of pickers in the sector. The quality of the product is, of course, the central theme. Growers can supply fresher strawberries with reduced bruising to the shops, which is good news for consumers. By working ever more closely with breeders, alongside growers and testing centres, Octinion intends to raise the sector to new heights.
In the coming years, the company is also aiming to produce picking robots for other crops besides strawberries.