Robotic Tomato Harvester Ready For Space
Astronauts on space missions are busy - too busy to tend the hydroponic gardens that will keep them alive on long trips to distant worlds, or on the surface of the Moon or Mars. Using a $100,000 NASA grant, Peter Ling of the Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center has created a robotic tomato harvester to keep astronauts on task.
(From Tomato Harvester Robot)
NASA understands that long-term space missions depend on some form of farming as a matter of survivial. Plant cultivation not only yields foodstuffs and organic material, but also helps make air breathable and can provide water filtration.
“Labor requirements to grow and harvest the crops must be reduced through automation,” said Ling. “Growing a salad crop, having something live in a space station, is very important for both nutritional and psychological reasons. At the same time, automation is needed to save production and harvesting time.”
The tomato harvester robot is able to locate and pick ripe tomatoes; the robot's "eye" scans the tomato plant and determines the number and position of ripe fruit. Image processing algorithms created specifically for the robot are able to detect ripe fruit even if it is partially obscured by branches or leaves. Using this data, the four-fingered prosthetic hand locates a tomato, opens the fingers and takes hold of the fruit. The robot balances pulling, bending and torsion movements to detach the tasty treat.
The robot has been tested here on Earth; success rates of fruit sensing are running at 95% and fruit picking success is rated at 85%. This technology is also planned for use right here on Earth. The robot has been demonstrated at the Kennedy Space Center. Read more about the robot at Robotic Harvester developed at OARDC.
Science fiction authors have long understood the need for a viable food source on long space voyages. One example is the lifezone, an agricultural environment pod from Gregory Benford's 1989 novel Tides of Light. And here on Earth, William Gibson wrote about a robot crab, a kind of automated gardner, in Neuromancer. Also, you might want to check out a recent article on farm automation here on Earth; see AgBots: Agricultural Robots Take The Field.
Scroll down for more stories in the same category. (Story submitted 12/2/2004)
Follow this kind of news @Technovelgy.
| Email | RSS | Blog It | Stumble | del.icio.us | Digg | Reddit |
you like to contribute a story tip?
Get the URL of the story, and the related sf author, and add
Comment/Join discussion ( 2 )
Related News Stories -
Rovable Robots Crawl Across Your Body
'Most of the crew have the tiny imp ride on their shoulder...' - Robert Forward, 1985.
Autonomous Robots Navigate Like Rats
'Out of warrens in the wall, tiny robot mice darted.' - Ray Bradbury, 1950.
SINTEF Robot Cleans Solar Panels
'The window cleaners, with large padded feet...' - Arthur C. Clarke, 1972.
How Rude! DARPA Wants Robots To Behave More Like Threepio
'Do I know protocol? Why, it's my primary function.' - George Lucas, 1976.
Technovelgy (that's tech-novel-gee!)
is devoted to the creative science inventions and ideas of sf authors. Look for
the Invention Category that interests
you, the Glossary, the Invention
Timeline, or see what's New.
Rovable Robots Crawl Across Your Body
'Most of the crew have the tiny imp ride on their shoulder...'
Sansar Social Virtual Reality Platform In 2017?
'And just as a daydreamer forgets his actual surroundings, and sees other realities...'
Cellphone Harvests Power From Ambient Radio Signals And Light
A battery-free phone.
Desktopography Makes Virtual Desktops Real
'Ender doodled on his desk, drawing contour maps of mountainous islands and then telling his desk to display them in three dimensions...'
LaWS Laser Can Take Out Rogue Drones
Looks like a weapon for the Runaway squad!
Moon Express Lunar Robot Mining: Shine On, Harvest Moon
'The bulldozer moved through the lunar strip mine... '
Liquid Body Armor For TALOS Exoskeleton
'... instantly became rigid all over when something struck it...'
Hyperloop One Video Shows It Works!
'Complete evacuation of the interior of the tubes [and] a wave that provides the new propulsive energy for the cars...'
Chairless Chair Exoskeleton By Sapetti
'Earth's scientists... devised rigid metallic clothing...'
Publishing Technologies In Science Fiction
Well, this should be enough references to start...
Russia Working On Military Exoskeletons
'Вы похожи на большую стальную гориллу...'
3D Printed Bionic Chinese Skin
Your skin is ready!
Flexup Tire Design Good For Tumblebugs
'Each spoke telescopes into five sections.'
3D Printed Graphene Aerogel - So Light!
'... light as cork and stronger than steel...'
Asteroid Deflection With DART
'This obelisk is one huge deflector mechanism...'
Translate One2One From IBM's Watson Your Communication Solution
'It then excretes into the mind of its carrier a telepathic matrix...'
More SF in the News Stories
More Beyond Technovelgy science news stories