State research institute creates robot system capable of harvesting and carrying fruits

By Kim Joo-heon Posted : March 10, 2023, 11:22 Updated : March 10, 2023, 11:26

[Courtesy of the Korea Institute of Machinery and Materials]

SEOUL -- A state research body has developed a robot system that consists of an artificial intelligence-based robot capable of harvesting vegetables and fruits using its manipulator and a self-driving robot that carries harvested items to a loading dock. The system can significantly help South Koreans to overcome the labor shortage, especially in rural areas.
According to data released by the national statistics office, the population of farming households in South Korea was about 2.2 million as of December 1, 2022, down 23.9 percent from 10 years ago. The average age of farm operators was 67.2 in 2021.
The Korea Institute of Machinery and Materials (KIMM) said its research team has developed a robot system that can operate for 24 hours. The system's harvesting robot figures out the location of crops using artificial intelligence and collects them through its robotic hand. Collected crops will be stored in the harvesting robot's box which is used to temporarily store horticultural products. When the box is filled with too many crops, the transport robot will pick them up and carry them to a loading dock.
The KIMM said the system showed an 80 percent efficiency compared to human workers considering that its crop recognition rate was over 90 percent and can work for 24 hours.
"We will continue research to adopt the system not only for indoor facility-based gardening but also for many different manual tasks in outdoor environments such as orchards by improving its performance and functions,” KIMM's senior researcher Choi Tae-yong said in a statement on March 9. 
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