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 |

Would you like to contribute a story tip? It's easy:
Get the URL of the story, and the related sf author, and add it here.

Comment/Join discussion ( 2 )

Related News Stories - (" Robotics ")

'We're Not Creating A Terminator' Say Russians About Gun-Wielding Robot Fedor
Nobody is thinking about the Terminator. Westworld, maybe.

Pooper Scooper Drone Robot Watchdog 1
'Robots pick up the garbage and junk...' - Harry Harrison, 1956.

Cassie Robot Brings AT-ST Walker To Life
There's even a log test!

Hundreds Of Robot Lawnmowers Invade Texas Town
'The mower reached the edge of the lawn, clucked to itself...' - Clifford Simak, 1944.

 

Google
  Web TechNovelgy.com   

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.

 

 

 

 

 

Current News

Cattle Avoidance Feature In Indian Autonomous Cars
'The driver went about the business of gently slipping the teflon-coated metal scoop beneath the first animal...'

Project KOVR Fashion Protection From Infosphere
'... the entire shroudlike membrane took on whatever physical characteristics were projected at any nanosecond.'

Twist Bioscience High Density Digital Data On DNA
'They tied the memory to the bloodline and that was their record!'

'We're Not Creating A Terminator' Say Russians About Gun-Wielding Robot Fedor
Nobody is thinking about the Terminator. Westworld, maybe.

Vantablack Now IMMEASURABLY Black
'a black coating now that’s ninety-nine percent absorptive...'

Mercedes-Benz Autonomous Taxi Fleet In 3 Years
'... the taxi utilized sophisticated electronic sensors to perceive its surroundings.'

Is 'The Pulsar Positioning System' Evidence For SETI?
'For a hyperspace jump, you need at least four beacons for an accurate fix.'

Someday, You Might Like VR Enough To Move In
'That barrier was going to melt away someday soon. The transhumanists had promised...'

Humans Use Mental Power For Turtle Slavery
Now we need to start looking for animals with fingers...

Solar-Powered Moisture Vaporator
'The atmosphere yielded its moisture with reluctance.'

DxtER! Tricorder Prize Won By Final Frontier Medical Devices
We've been waiting a long time for this, Star Trek fans.

President Trump's Wall As Otra Nation Hyperloop
'...an hollow tube must be constructed the whole distance... as to admit a four wheeled carriage...'

Pickup Lines From Artificial Intelligences
'They hate us, you know... The humans. They'll stop at nothing.'

Pooper Scooper Drone Robot Watchdog 1
'Robots pick up the garbage and junk...'

Cassie Robot Brings AT-ST Walker To Life
There's even a log test!

Hundreds Of Robot Lawnmowers Invade Texas Town
'The mower reached the edge of the lawn, clucked to itself...'

More SF in the News Stories

More Beyond Technovelgy science news stories

Home | Glossary | Invention Timeline | Category | New | Contact Us | FAQ | Advertise |
Technovelgy.com - where science meets fiction™

Copyright© Technovelgy LLC; all rights reserved.