Robotic asparagus picker praised by US farmers

15 October 2019

Robotic Asparagus Harvester
Robotic Asparagus Harvester at this year's Fieldays event.

Asparagus is one of the hardest crops to harvest. But an ingenious device created by mechanical engineering experts at the University of Waikato have made it an achievable task.

The robotic asparagus harvester, which was on display at this year’s Fieldays event, has been given the thumbs up by asparagus growers across the country.

Now, it’s been tested by farmers in the US who have sung high praises for the invention.

The genius behind the asparagus harvester lies with the University of Waikato’s Dr Shen Hin Lim, a lecturer in mechanical engineering, PhD student Matthew Peebles and technical officer Joshua Barnett.

“The harvester works via a vision system that detects the asparagus spears, and then the system computes their corresponding base location,” says Dr Lim. “From there, the robotic arm goes to that location at a calculated time and cuts the asparagus.

“With the successful field trials using the current prototype in California, we are one step closer to a commercial viable machine useful to the asparagus industry.”

Dr Lim is part of Waikato Robotics, Automation and Sensing (WaiRAS) – a University-based group that develops smart machines, robots and visual sensors to perform operations.

WaiRAS collaborate with a number of partners, including RoboticsPlus, Arborgen, Tendertips and Boyds.

Check out the asparagus harvester being used on US farms, or watch the video below to see the work of robotics experts at Waikato.

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