Robots for Fruit-Picking Jobs

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Fruit may join the large number of U.S. crops that are harvested by machines.

Robotics companies like FFRobotics and Abundant Robotics are working on building machines to harvest delicate fruits.

FFRobotics is developing a 4- to 12-armed machine that has three-fingered grips to grab fruit and twist or clip it from a branch — at a rate of up to 10,000 apples an hour. The machines would leave about 10 or 15% of the fruit on the trees that humans would have to pick.

Abundant Robotics’ machine uses a vacuum to pull off apples.

The goal is to have these bots working in a couple of years, and analysts think they can do it.