Bosch has entered into an agreement to work with Fieldwork Robotics to accelerate the development of its novel robot technology to harvest soft fruit and vegetables.
Bosch UK will collaborate with Fieldwork’s engineers to optimise the company’s soft robotic arms and develop software aimed at reducing the arms’ cost and increasing their speed.
The objective is to move into full-scale production through the University of Plymouth spin out Fieldwork. The agreement between Fieldwork and Bosch is regarded as a significant step forward in the commercialisation of the technology.
Rui Andres, Fieldwork Robotics CEO, said: “This agreement is the result of several discussions between all the parties and the increasing interest in robotics within Bosch’s agribusiness. We are looking forward to working alongside Bosch to further increase the pace of development and preparing the future path of our robots.”
Frontier IP, a specialist in commercialising intellectual property, holds a 26.9% equity stake in Fieldwork, a holding valued at £1,355,000 following the completion in January 2020 of an initial equity funding round for the company.
Fieldwork is initially focused on developing robots to harvest raspberries, which are more delicate, more easily damaged than other soft fruits, and grow on bushes with complex foliage and berry distribution. Fieldwork, together with the University of Plymouth, is also developing proof-of-concept robots for other crops following interest from leading multinational agribusinesses.
The company is using £298,000 raised in January to accelerate development and scale up of its robotic technology. Work to date has also been supported by a £547,250 Innovate UK grant as part of a £671,484 project to develop the multi-armed robot prototype.
Fieldwork was incorporated to develop and commercialise the work of Dr Martin Stoelen, who splits his work between the University of Plymouth, where he lectures in robotics and leads the Soft and Adaptive Robotics lab, and as an associate professor at the Western Norway University of Applied Sciences.
Dr Stoelen has also led projects to develop a cauliflower harvesting robot systems and a tomato picker, a project run in partnership with the Shanghai Jiao Tong University.