A student at Cambridge University has won an industry award for developing a new concept for salad harvesting.
Armand de Durfort, a graduate from Ecole Polytechnique who has just completed his MPhil in Industrial Systems, Manufacture and Management at the University of Cambridge, developed his SoftHarvest system in cooperation with G’s Growers.
“The first challenge was to teach the harvester to recognise the lettuce and distinguish it from other green plants. The second was for it to pick the lettuce and cut it near to the ground without damaging it,” he explained.
“Our approach is to develop the vision recognition and control software and integrate this with a two-armed robot. By using existing hardware and adding considerable value with the application-specific software we aim to mitigate the risk of investment and provide a three-year return on investment.”
Presenting the Student award as part of Agri-Tech East’s GROW competition, Dr Belinda Clarke, said, “There is significant and growing demand for automation in agriculture as we move towards greater precision in all areas of the industry. Armand De Durfort produced a well researched business plan based on his direct experience of working with a commercial grower. It shows an appreciation of the narrow profit margins in this competitive market and the technology is inspirational.”
Photo Caption: Left-Right: David Langton (Agrii), Armand de Durfort (Softharvest), Phil Wigge (Pinpoint Phenomics), Belinda Clarke (Agri-Tech East)
Photo Credit: Agritech-East