Online Grocer Debuts “Fruit-Picking Robot” In Latest Blow To Minimum Wage Proponents

Tuesday, January 31, 2017
By Paul Martin

by Tyler Durden
Jan 31, 2017

In the latest sign that low-skill jobs are doomed to the inevitable, detrimental effects of technological advancements, particularly in era of politicians relentlessly fighting for higher minimum wages, an online grocer in Britain, Ocada, has debuted a prototype of a robotic arm that can pick fruit off an assembly line just like a human worker. Per a report from BBC, the fruit and vegetable picker is part of a five-year, EU-funded collaboration between five European universities and Disney, called Soma (Soft Manipulation).

Currently, all of Ocado’s customer orders are bagged on an assembly line at a warehouse in Andover, Hampshire by 1,000s of human hands. But that may be all about to change as Ocado’s technology looks to combine it’s robotic human hand with computer vision and the ability to actually pick fruit and vegetables according to ripeness.

“People have tried suction cups, robot hands with three fingers… What we are trying to do is to actually mimic the human hand.”

“The gripper is based on air pressure, which controls the movement of the robotic fingers.

“What we are trying to do is combine computer vision – being able to recognise products by looking at them – with the control aspect which is the gripping aspect.”

At the moment, only the gripper is being demonstrated but ultimately the robot will learn to distinguish fruit ripeness through machine learning.

It will also be able to pick other items which require different care – such as wine bottles and detergent.

“Fruit and vegetables are the hardest to pick,” said Mr Voica.

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