Robots may soon be picking apples and oranges and pruning grapevines.
Vision Robotics has renderings of fruit-picking robots on their site: Vision Robotics
“Cameras placed at the end of long scanning booms use arrays of stereoscopic cameras to create a virtual 3D image of the entire apple tree. The positions and sizes of the apples are stored and passed onto the harvesting arms. Immediately following the scanning process, a series of long reticulating arms are maneuvered to gracefully pick each apple quickly, efficiently, and economically.”
Gracefully maneuvering reticulating arms… Wow.
According to the press page, the company has received grants from the Washington Tree Fruit Research Commission and the California Citrus Research Board to continue the development of a robot harvester.
The Space and Naval Warfare Systems Center just signed a three year contract with them: “The company proposed leveraging its extensive experience with stereo vision hardware and algorithms to develop a Stereo Vision Mapping System that can be deployed on existing and forthcoming military EOD UGVs.” (EOD: explosive ordinance disposal. UGV: unmanned ground vehicle)
Space warfare and fruit picking. More closely related than you imagine.