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Saturday, October 23, 2010

US$ 400.000 for Robotic Orange Picker

Robotics firm Energid Technologies Corp. has won more funding to develop a robotic citrus harvest from the federal government. Best known for making software to control robotics systems, Energid will be working on a multi-armed robot to automate the labor-intensive harvest.

The new funding, US$ 400.000, comes in the form of a Small Business Innovation Research program grant from the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture. The award is a Phase 2 grant — the company won the original Phase 1 SBIR grant (US$ 80.000) for a robotic citrus harvester in June of 2008 from the USDA.

According to Energid, 12 million tons of citrus were harvested in the United States in 2009, of which about 3.5 percent were removed through shaking, usually done by machine. The other 96.5 percent, approximately 50 billion pieces of fruit, were picked by hand.

Energid said that the software being used in the planned citrus harvester — Energid’s Actin and Selectin robotics software toolkits — was developed for NASA, the U.S. Department of Defense and the U.S. National Science Foundation. The robot will be developed in locations in Massachusetts, Florida, Texas and California, and field trials will be performed in Southwest Florida.
(Source: Energid, USDA)

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