UK research team of agricultural engineering and machinery experts develop harvesting robot with IDS camera

Lettuce is a valuable crop in Europe and the United States. But labor shortages make it difficult to harvest this valuable field vegetable, as finding enough seasonal labor to meet harvest commitments is one of the industry’s biggest challenges. Moreover, with wage inflation rising faster than producer prices, margins are very tight.

Lettuce is a valuable crop in Europe and the United States. But labor shortages make it difficult to harvest this valuable field vegetable, as finding enough seasonal labor to meet harvest commitments is one of the industry’s biggest challenges. Moreover, with wage inflation rising faster than producer prices, margins are very tight.

In England, technology and agricultural machinery experts are working with IDS to develop a robotic solution to automate lettuce harvesting. The team is working on a project funded by Innovate UK and includes experts from Grimme Agricultural Machinery Factory, Agri-EPI Center (Edinburgh UK), Harper Adams University (Newport UK), Center for Machine Vision from the University of the West of England (Bristol) and two of the largest salad producers in the UK.

As part of the project, existing leek harvesting machines are adapted to lift lettuce off the ground and grab it between pinch belts. The outer leaves or “husks” of the lettuce will be mechanically removed to expose the stem. Machine vision and artificial intelligence are then used to identify a precise cutting point on the stalk to carefully separate the head of lettuce.

“The process of cutting an iceberg is the most technically complicated step in the process to automate, according to teammates at subsidiary G Salad Harvesting Services Ltd.”, explains Rob Webb, IDS Product Sales Specialist.

For more information:
IDS Imaging Development Systems GmbH
Dimbacher Str. ten
74182 Obersulm – Germany
Tel: +49 7134 96196-0

Amalia H. Mercado