Universal Logic is to provide 100 of its Neocortex robotic systems to Agricultural Robotics.
The two companies have entered a memorandum of understanding which stipulates the provision of artificial intelligence systems for automation in agriculture.
Agricultural Robotics is a consortium of strawberry plant suppliers representing 80 per cent of the strawberry nursery production in North America, producing 500 million plants a year.
The Neocortex software-based systems Universal will provide use Yaskawa industrial robots, and are capable of 3D plant recognition, grasping, and enabling robots to properly pick and pack sorted plants.
This agreement represents part of Agricultural Robotics’ multi-year effort to automate strawberry plant sorting, trimming and packing, says Universal.
The partnership between Universal and Agricultural Robotics has already successfully developed a plant sorter machine, combining Neocortex plant recognition with robotics.
The new agreement demonstrates Agricultural Robotics’ intention for Neocortex artificial intelligence software to be an integral part of automation solutions for plant handling in agriculture.
Hob Wubbena, vice president for Universal Logic, says: “Recognizing that no two plants are the same, the solution demonstrates the capability of Neocortex to handle extreme plant variability as well as robot grasping and path planning at high speeds. We are delighted to partner with ARL [Agricultural Robotics].”
The Neocortex system automatically provides final quality assurance by grading the plants. In addition to enabling robotic sorting, it also determines the 3D position in real-time of each plant.
This enables careful, high-speed robotic picking and packing for shipments.
Once fully implemented, the systems will be handling five hundred million plants a year, which is 80 per cent of the North American production.
These ARL-produced plants produce 1.1 million tons of strawberry fruit annually.
Agricultural Robotics member, Elizabeth Elwood Ponce, vice president of Lassen Canyon Nursery, which has been growing strawberries for 50 years, says: “By using industry-leading automation technology, Agricultural Robotics has developed a robotic solution using Neocortex that ensures cost-effective delivery of the highest quality strawberry plants in the market.”