FRANCE - Robots to Harvest Cauliflower

Arno Froese

The job of harvesting cauliflowers could one day be in the mechanical hands of robots thanks to a collaboration between scientists and the French canned vegetable producer Bonduelle.

Fieldwork Robotics, the team behind the world’s first raspberry-picking robot, is designing a machine in a three-year collaboration.

An early prototype already exists, developed by Fieldwork’s co-founder Dr Martin Stoelen, lecturer in robotics at the University of Plymouth and associate professor at the Western Norway University of Applied Science. It has a gripper and a cutter that can neatly slice off a cauliflower head.

Stoelen originally developed the robot system in a project funded by the European Regional Development Fund and Cornwall council. Fieldwork envisages a modular robot system that can be adapted for different fruit and vegetables (it has also been tested on tomatoes).

Fieldwork raised £298,000 in January from its backers to scale up the technology, and has also been supported by a £547,250 Innovate UK grant. It is looking to raise a further £500,000 from existing and new investors.

The company has worked with Germany’s Bosch to improve the software and design of the robot arms. The robot is about to get two more arms, and should be able to pick a raspberry in 2.5 seconds next year (currently 2.8 seconds) while humans take two seconds to pick a raspberry on average. However, the robot will be able to work right through the night., 21 September 2020

Arno's commentary

From the older generation, we have heard the repeated slogan, “the good old days.” But, compared with today, the old days were rather miserable. Not too long ago, a farmer had to plow his field with oxen, donkeys, or horses. He then scattered the seed by hand, and later harvested it with a scythe, dried the grain, and then—by hand—threshed it out. All that was back-breaking, physical labor, and the harvest was rather poor by today’s standards.

Now there seems to be no limit to machines (robots) doing man’s physical labor. For example, the John Deere Combine 9870 STS operates harvesters with enclosed, air-conditioned cabs, rotary threshers, and laser-guided, automatic steering. All that is indeed a long way from the curse Adam inherited because of sin: “Thorns also and thistles shall it bring forth to thee; and thou shalt eat the herb of the field; In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground; for out of it wast thou taken: for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return” (Genesis 3:18-19).

Arno Froese is the executive director of Midnight Call Ministries and editor-in-chief of the acclaimed prophetic magazines Midnight Call and News From Israel. He has authored a number of well-received books, and has sponsored many prophecy conferences in the U.S., Canada, and Israel. His extensive travels have contributed to his keen insight into Bible prophecy, as he sees it from an international perspective.

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