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 ")

Robots Help People Get Dressed, As Predicted In 1931
Yes, people of the future, robots will dress you.

Robot Snake Flies, Fights Fires
Just a prototype, but shows real promise.

IPAL Chinese Robot Babysitter
'But Nanny is different...' - Philip K. Dick, 1955.

DIY Autonomous Robot Detects Trash
'The search-bug detached itself and rolled forward.' - Philip K. Dick

 

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

Superstrong Multilayer Metal-Graphene Composite Material
Negligible increase in weight increased material strength by hundreds of times.

Deepfakes Imperil Democracy (George Orwell, Right Again)
'All history was a palimpsest, scraped clean and reinscribed exactly as often as was necessary.'

String Art Courtesy Of Robot Artist
The number of different ways to span a thread between a larger number of hooks is astronomical.

Still Wondering If You'd Work For A Robot Boss?
'This is all coming to you courtesy of the simstim unit wired into your deck, of course.'

World's First Autonomous Tram In Germany
What's it like for autonomous trams when they're turned off at night?

Sleeep PRO Earplug For Maximum Rest
'Merton... placed the electrodes of the sleep-inducer on his forehead.'

Inspired By Japan, Nap Pods For Hajj
It's always a good time for a nap.

Amphibio 3D Printed Gill Shirt
'... we can descend and live down there at one of those year-round aquatic resorts.'

How Do You Put An Asteroid Into Earth Orbit? Carefully!
'...she would have to be coaxed by another series of pats into a circular orbit.'

PD Aerospace Space Plane By 2023
'The sleek, tapered space shuttle lay immobile upon the private landing field...'

Foldimate Folds Your Clothes Perfectly
Look ma, my room is clean! I can hear you now.

Robots Help People Get Dressed, As Predicted In 1931
Yes, people of the future, robots will dress you.

International Space Station Leak Plugged - With Finger
'These tag-alongs search out stray leaks.'

Robot Snake Flies, Fights Fires
Just a prototype, but still amazing.

IPAL Chinese Robot Babysitter
'But Nanny is different...'

ZKZM-500 LASER Assault Rifle
'The Iranian reached back into the locker and got a pair of laserifles.'

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.