Scorpion Vision has developed a number of robot systems to meet the growing demand in the farming industry to process vegetables as soon as they are harvested. These automated systems are designed to cut and trim produce for packaging at much faster speeds than human agricultural workers and with much greater accuracy.
Systems have been developed for trimming swedes, leeks and sprouts to date, but they can be extended to other produce. They use AI augmented 3D machine vision to recognize, locate and accurately measure the area of the vegetable to be removed by the robot, taking all human subjectivity out of the process. A robot system can cut multiple products in less than a second, far exceeding the speeds that a human operator can achieve. The level of speed and accuracy provided by these systems reduces costs, improves the processing quality by making sure that none of the vegetable is wasted and improves operating margins.
Managing Director Paul Wilson said: “This cutting and trimming process is labour intensive. It has traditionally been carried out by seasonal agricultural workers, often in difficult conditions and carries an increased risk of industrial injury due to the use of sharp knives. However, our systems can operate safely, and at speed, 24/7 if required.”
“Even before the coronavirus pandemic the need for automated systems was becoming more acute due to the generally reducing availability of the seasonal labour force,” he continued. “However now farmers face the additional difficulties associated with the high risk of the virus spreading through workforces that are not able to maintain social distancing. This makes automation even more important as they can’t afford to have valuable produce go to waste if workers are not available due to self-isolation.”
The technology has been selected as a finalist in the ‘Machinery Innovator of the Year’ category at the 2020 British Farming Awards.
Photo: 3D imaging of swede used to determine trimming position