SYDNEY, May 16 (Xinhua) — Australian scientists have created a new automatic mango harvester with the potential to revolutionize the industry, developers from CQUniversity said Thursday.
An initial trial of the technology achieved a 75 percent efficiency in automatically identifying and picking ripe fruits. CQUniversity professor Kerry Walsh said the aim now is to increase that to 90 percent.
Such promising results are turning heads in the industry which struggles with the availability and price of labor for picking.
“The auto-harvester has the potential to solve some of the major labor force issues that currently limit the industry,” Walsh said.
“The end goal is to save costs and improve productivity on farm, while driving consumer demand by ensuring a top-quality eating experience every time.”
CQUniversity had previously created an infrared spectroscopy (NIRS) measurement system capable of assessing the eating quality of mangos and predicting the ideal harvest time, which is widely used by Australian farmers.
“The next step on from that, having ‘seen’ the fruit, was to try to reach out to pick the fruit to automate the harvest,” Walsh said.
Currently the auto-harvester is operated from the back of a trailer but next stage development tests will investigate the use of drone vehicles to improve speed and accuracy.