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 ")

Unusual Twist On Woman Dates Robot
'My hearing, vision and awareness went along with that excellent imitation of a young Adonis...' - Manly Wade Wellman, 1938.

Blood Battery Robotic Fish
'With one fluid motion, it surged forward, plunged, and was gone.'- Michael Swanwick, 2002.

Bee+ Robobee Now With Four Wings
'It was a tiny thing, scarcely more than an inch and a half in length...' - Raymond Z. Gallun, 1936.

Jeff Bezos Tries Waldoes (Robotic Hands)
'Waldo put his arms into the primary pair before him...' - Robert Heinlein, 1942.

 

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

Nobe 3-Wheel Electric Vehicle Parking Like I, Robot
Spidercar, Spidercar, does whatever a spidercar does.

Michelin Self-Sealing Tires On Ford's Explorer
'...a seal of compressed plastifoam to save the air.'

Mushroom Eats Plastic, Saves Planet
Fungus Amongus, SaveUs!

Juggalo Face Paint Disrupts Facial Recognition
'... designed to foil facial recognition systems.'

Mojipic Smart Voice Vehicle Emojis
KITT, what's your response?

Unusual Twist On Woman Dates Robot
'My hearing, vision and awareness went along with that excellent imitation of a young Adonis...'

BrainNet Triple Telepathic Gaming Threat
'In the gloomy half-darkness the three idiots sat babbling.'

AVAS Noisemakers Required For EVs By EU
'...a sound tape to supply the noise of a soi-disant "[internal combustion]" engine...'

Pun Generation Via Neural Nets
'You said you wanted him to be able to distinguish between laugh-power in different gags...'

Blood Battery Robotic Fish
'With one fluid motion, it surged forward, plunged, and was gone.'

Lightyear One Solar-Powered Electric Car (Design By Heinlein)
'It drew its power from six square yards of sunpower screens on its low curved roof.'

'Agression Detectors' Don't Work When Spying On Students
'The professional agitators had also learned how to modulate their voices below the danger level...'

Mining Of Golden Asteroid Foretold In 1898 Science Fiction
'This must be a golden planet—this little asteroid.'

Miners! NASA Wants To License RASSOR Excavator
'The borers had been dismantled and packed away.'

Bee+ Robobee Now With Four Wings
'It was a tiny thing, scarcely more than an inch and a half in length...'

CNSILK Robotic Spider Builder
'We could certainly spin a web right through the Solar System, if we can think of a good use for one.'

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.