This futuristic robot is helping eliminate the guesswork and manpower behind harvesting crops.
Virgo 1, a robot created by Massachusetts-based tech start-up Root AI, uses artificial intelligence to pick tomatoes and other fruit when they’re perfectly ripe.
The gadget’s sensors can “see” a fruit in 3D, analyze ripeness in realtime and understand if it is ready to pick — even in “highly cluttered and complicated growing environments,” according to the company’s website.
If Virgo 1 determines a piece of fruit is ripe, the robot extends its arm, gently grabs onto the fruit, gives a quick twist and gently plucks it from the branch without damaging the produce. While similar bots are restricted to harvesting one type of fruit, Virgo 1’s software allows it to be programmed for any fruit or vegetable.
Root AI cofounder Josh Lessing explained to the Boston Globe that the camera that steers Virgo 1’s arm has a video-processing chip and artificial intelligence software that was “trained by being fed millions of images of ripe and unripe tomatoes.”
Although at the moment, the Virgo AI system focuses on crop harvesting, Lessing told the Globe he expects it will one day be used to scan and assess the health of plants throughout their lifetime. As new and improved networks like Verizon’s 5G Ultra Wideband — with ultra-fast speeds, ultra-low latency and massive capacity — are introduced, possibilities will continue to expand for existing technologies like Virgo 1, improving operations in nearly every industry.
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