Automated Brassica Harvesting in Cornwall (ABC) is developing robotic systems for automating manual picking operations in the horticultural sector in Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly.
The main crops for the project are cauliflower, broccoli, kale and cabbage which are extensively grown in Cornwall. The project aims to demonstrate ‘proof-of-concept’ autonomous harvesting robots for horticultural crops to help drive up productivity in the sector. A two-handed robot test rig is being designed, built, and tested under field conditions in Cornwall.
The project uses soft robot arm technology, in which the robot arm joints are able to vary their stiffness in real-time, softening to withstand an impact during fast ballistic phases of movement, and then stiffening to ensure accuracy during the approach and picking phase.
The ABC team hope that their selective harvesting platforms will help to address the challenges addressed by vegetable growers as producers seek to cut costs and meet demanding specifications from buyers.