Robotic apple harvester in action

Robotic apple harvester in action

Robotic apple harvester in action

In Central Washington this fall, robots will pick apples as part of small-scale tests in the race to sell a robotic apple harvester. American apple growers have wanted robotic harvesters for a long time because there aren’t enough workers and the cost of workers is going up. Experts say that 60% of the cost of each apple comes from labour, and that 2/3 of that cost comes from the harvest.

A robotics arms race is going on between a few big companies. There are a number of well-known brands, such as Abundant Robots, Tevel Aerobotics Technologies, Fresh Fruit Robotics, and Advanced Farm Technologies. Even though technology is getting better, experts in the field think it will be three to five years before it becomes widely available to the public. “To be honest, this could be a big year.” Ines Hanrahan, executive director of the Washington Tree Fruit Research Commission, which is helping pay for the study, says, “Next year will be very different if some of these businesses succeed, which I have no doubt they will.”

Instead of selling robots, all four companies aim to offer them as services or leases, with fees based on the number of bins picked up or the number of months rented. One of the companies in the running is Fresh Fruit Robotics, which is based in Israel. The company has been working with Washington farmers for a long time. In August, they will do a small-scale commercial harvest at a grower-packer facility. The FFRobotics device has 12 arms, six on each side. These arms can be moved to change the width of the rows. After being gently put on conveyor belts, apples are put into bins by prongs at the end of each arm.

Avi Kahani, the CEO and president of FFRobotics, said that the harvesting process was changed because a previous robot picked up too many fruiting spurs along with the apples. Hanrahan, a member of the commission, said, “FFRobotics pretty much did that job.” The CEO of FFRobotics is hopeful, but the hardware and software of the robot still need to be improved. Kahani says, “At the moment, I don’t see any big problems.” “I think the device is now ready to be sold to the public.” If the tests go well, Kahani thinks the company will expand its market offerings in 2023 and may eventually sell the robot as a four-season machine that can also thin and prune branches.

Tevel Aerobotics Technologies is a separate company that is also based in Israel. Tevel uses flying robots that can fly on their own, called “drones,” to find ripe fruit, which workers then pick by hand. “Like birds, each drone picks out its own fruit,” Hanrahan says. Tevel’s founder and CEO, Yaniv Maor, wrote to the Capital Press from Berlin to say that he is showing his technology to European producers right now. This fall, Tevel will come to the United States to test drones in Washington orchards. Hanrahan says that Tevel seems to be “on the fast track” to being sold to the public.


Sophia Amelia is the New York Times Bestselling Author. Writing stories to inspire young minds. Celebrating the power of words & imagination through my books. Join me on my journey to creating stories that will capture your imagination and captivate your heart.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *