Innovate UK has awarded an £84,000 continuity grant to Fieldwork Robotics to further advance its soft fruit picking robot during the coronavirus crisis.
The technology, which can currently harvest raspberries, is under development by Fieldwork to assist growers facing human labour shortages as a result of international travel restrictions and social distancing measures.
Rui Andres, CEO, Fieldwork Robotics, said: “Fieldwork Robotics is addressing the long-standing problems soft-fruit and vegetable growers have faced in recruiting enough human labour to harvest their crops.
“Covid-19 has only made these problems worse. We are very grateful to Innovate UK and the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund for their continued support.”
The grant will support the company’s planned team expansion and facilities development. Since receiving £547,250 from the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund grant in April 2019 Fieldwork has also completed field trails with UK soft fruit growers.
In July the company took a step toward full-scale commercial production by announcing a collaboration with Bosch to optimise the robot’s arms and develop software.
What’s more, Fieldwork has reportedly made progress in developing further applications of the technology to harvest other fruit and vegetables in addition to raspberries.