UK-based team develops AI-powered lettuce harvesting solution

LinkedIn +

A British research team of agricultural and machinery engineers are working to develop a lettuce harvesting robot, which uses machine vision and AI to determine the intersection point on the stem.

The team is working on a project funded by Innovate UK and includes researchers from the Grimme agricultural machinery factory; the Agri-EPI Centre, Edinburgh; Harper Adams University, Newport; the Centre for Machine Vision at the University of the West of England, Bristol; as well as two UK salad producers G’s Fresh and PDM Produce.

Existing machinery has been retrofitted with cameras, machine vision and AI technology

Existing leek harvesting machinery has been adapted to lift the lettuce clear from the ground and grip it in between pinch belts. The lettuce’s outer, or ‘wrapper’, leaves will be mechanically removed to expose the stem.

The system features a camera system from Imaging Development Systems (IDS), then machine vision and AI systems are used to identify a precise cut point on the stem to neatly separate the head of lettuce.

“The cutting process of an iceberg is the most technically complicated step in the process to automate, according to teammates from G subsidiary Salad Harvesting Services,” explained Rob Webb from IDS’ product sales team.

“The prototype harvesting robot being built incorporates a GigE Vision camera from the uEye FA family. It is considered to be particularly robust and is therefore ideally suited to demanding environments. As this is an outdoor application, a housing with IP65/67 protection is required here.”

The prototype of the robotic mower will be used for field trials in England towards the end of the season.

Share this story: