Partnership to advance automation for cucumber and mushroom growers
April 12, 2021 By Vineland Research and Innovation Centre (edited)
A new collaboration between Vineland Research and Innovation Centre (Vineland) and optics and photonics developer INO will soon make automation technology available for mushroom and greenhouse cucumber growers.
The collaborative partnership is working to develop new robotic harvesting solutions to help Canadian growers be more efficient and productive while offering relief from labour shortages.
“Addressing labour challenges in horticulture through automation is a key priority for Vineland and this new collaborative relationship with INO will play a significant role in helping us advance automation technologies for the sector,” says Phillip Stephan, vice president of business and client development, Vineland. “We are looking forward to harnessing INO’s expertise in vision technology for the benefit of Canadian growers.”
As Vineland tells Greenhouse Canada, “the robotic harvesting system uses a camera that provides colour images and 3D information to a deep learning vision system that detects fruit, determines its ripeness and locates it within the robot’s workspace.” A robotic arm then reaches out with a specialized tool to make a cut at the appropriate location. The harvested fruit is transferred back to the robot before moving on to the next plant. “A key feature of the system is its ability to account for the uncertainty in measurements by the vision system, which allows it to move quickly with a high success rate. The robot can also harvest without stopping its forward movement, further reducing the overall harvest time.”
The next step is to find a commercialization partner.
“Food autonomy and the buy-local movement are the future way of living and producers need innovative solutions to meet demand. Our collaboration with Vineland is targeted to our mission: to help businesses to be more productive and competitive. With vision and detection technologies, we hope to offer new solutions for labour shortages and farming process automatization to Canadian growers in a near future,” says Louis Martel, vice president of business development and partnership at INO.
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