Cauliflower-picking robots are under development in the UK. Richard Dudley at the National Physical Laboratory is working with agricultural firm Vegetable Harvesting Systems to develop these new agricultural robots.
One prototype has a multi-axis arm and the other is equipped with a blade that simply cuts and gathers. Field trials of both are being carried out on a farm in Cambridgeshire.
For a robot equipped with the right sensors, far infra-red, terahertz and microwave, then working out if a cauliflower is ready to pick is easy.
"Once they reach a certain size you know they are ripe," said Dr Dudley.
Current prototypes will likely be attached to a harvester but future versions could patrol the fields themselves.
"They'll use GPS and imaging systems to see the crops and understand how they are growing," said Dr Dudley. "They can start monitoring, managing and predicting so you can maximise the yield per acre."
Fans of the 1972 movie Silent Running will also remember (as Peter Jacobs did in the comments) that Bruce Dern took tended his garden with the help of robots.
(Gardening robots from Silent Running)
Fans of Philip K. Dick may recall his autonomic plow, the puckishly clever literary device that reverses the adage from Isaiah regarding beating swords into plowshares.
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