We have spoken on many occasions about the new wave of investments in automation could stimulate the economy after the next economic reset.
And we have also offered many sobering reminders that robots will likely displace 20% to 25% of current jobs (40 million jobs) by 2030. So, in our search for robots that will take jobs of the bottom 90% of Americans, this week, we have stumbled upon the world's first raspberry-picking robot.
According to The Guardian, the new robot can pick upwards of 25,000 raspberries per day, outpacing human workers that pick around 15,000 in an eight-hour shift.
University of Plymouth spinout company Fieldwork Robotics is commercializing automation technology that will allow robots to harvest raspberries. With a successful pilot run, the robot could be gearing up to pick other fruits and vegetables.
Check out the world's first ever raspberry-picking #robot, which has gone on trial in the UK. Developed by Fieldwork Robotics, a spinout from @PlymUni, it uses a robotic arm to pick a raspberry in 10 seconds or less. @guardian https://t.co/K0bZ2dE0Fm #agtech #robotics pic.twitter.com/VBcCEcYDyq— Robot&AIWorld (@RobotAndAIWorld) May 26, 2019
The prototype robot cost $890,000 to develop, can detect ripe fruit with its extensive camera system. Guided by sensors and 3D cameras, it uses picking arms to reach into the bush once the ripe fruit is identified, gently grabs it and plucks it from the bush and drops it into a collection bin.
A farm in West Sussex, a county in the south of England, had successfully tested the robot in August 2018. Researchers from the company collected enough data from the trial that will allow the company to push towards commercialization in 2020.
"We are delighted with the progress Fieldwork is making in developing a raspberry-harvesting robot system," said Neil Crabb of Frontier IP, a major stakeholder in Fieldwork Robotics. "Completing these field trials is an important milestone in commercializing the technology, and we are looking forward to the next round of tests in the autumn."
Separate tests in China have shown the robot can pick tomatoes and cauliflower.
The new robot works 20-hour shifts, but one of the biggest challenges for researchers is getting them to adapt to day and night conditions, said Rui Andres, portfolio manager at Frontier IP, one of the investors of Fieldwork.
Robots promise to raise productivity, at a time when the global economy is cycling down and has become vulnerable to shocks that may cause a global trade recession. On top of that, global demographic issues persist in the developed world, like the US and Europe, where workforces are aging rapidly. Automation will replace millions of people in the coming years, could aid in the recovery of global economies after the next economic downturn.