The Future of Greenhouse Farming: An Innovative Solution to Labor Shortages

Working in a greenhouse is a physically demanding and time-consuming task. The grueling conditions of high humidity and soaring temperatures make it even more exhausting for those involved. Beerstecher AG, a family business located in Hinwil, understands this struggle all too well. They have been facing difficulties in finding and retaining suitable labor for their vegetable harvests. However, a ray of hope has emerged in the form of a picking robot developed by ETH spin-off Floating Robotics.

The picking robot from Floating Robotics offers a revolutionary solution to alleviate the strain on human pickers. It automates crucial tasks such as defoliating, harvesting, and boxing vegetables, relieving workers of repetitive activities. This allows employees to focus on more demanding tasks that require creativity and critical thinking. Bianca Curcio, an ETH Zurich alumna and the person responsible for production management in the Beerstecher greenhouse, emphasizes the importance of the robot in optimizing their operations.

Although the picking robot is still in its pilot phase, Curcio has high hopes for its future integration into Beerstecher AG’s production process. The robot, developed by engineers and students from the Robotic Systems Lab (RSL) at ETH Zurich, shows immense potential. Under the leadership of Salman Faraji, they formed the spin-off Floating Robotics in 2023 with the intention of bringing this groundbreaking technology to the market.

Equipped with an integrated camera, the picking robot efficiently monitors the crops. Its built-in computer enables it to recognize different plants and objects, ensuring precise and accurate operations. The robot’s robotic arm is designed to perform specific tasks such as de-leafing or harvesting, further streamlining the greenhouse farming process.

The implementation of picking robots in greenhouses not only enhances efficiency but also contributes to a more sustainable agricultural system. By reducing the reliance on manual labor, these robots minimize the risk of injury for workers and enable farmers to optimize their production. Additionally, the increased precision of robot-assisted tasks leads to a reduction in waste and ensures that only the highest quality vegetables make it to the market.

The picking robot from Floating Robotics represents a major innovation in the field of greenhouse farming. By taking over strenuous and repetitive activities, it allows human laborers to focus on more critical aspects of their work. With its advanced features and potential for integration, this technology is poised to revolutionize the industry, addressing the challenges posed by labor shortages and creating a more sustainable future for greenhouse farming.

Technology

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