Cambridge University researchers have implemented AI tech to pick the tough outer leaves of lettuce, providing a perfectly tender salad serving.
At the moment, the outer leaves of lettuce have to be removed by humans to make sure they’re saleable. However, this is hugely data intensive and can cost huge amounts in labour costs, especially when compared to other crops.
The university’s researchers have developed a system that uses artificial intelligence vision to find the stem of the plant and work out how the leaves are laying. If it can’t see the stem, it’ll keep turning the vegetable around until it can identify the stem.
Once it’s found the stem, it will use a vacuum mounted on a robotic arm to take off the outer leaves of the crop.
Although this system seems pretty watertight, it still takes almost 30 seconds for the robot to strip the tough leaves. It only takes a human four seconds to do the same job. However, the researchers are working on making this faster and when it is, the researchers will be able to commercial the technology.
The MIT technology review also revealed it’s not great in all conditions and so the company needs to work in all farming conditions.
“In addition to replacing more warehouse and manufacturing roles, more dexterous robots like this may also replace agricultural workers and fill the gaps in the farming labor supply,” MIT’s Technology Review said.
“But first they’ll have to learn to identify, harvest, and handle our produce as deftly as humans—without costing any more.”