strawberry picking robot japan

Japan’s National Agriculture and Food Research Organization has developed this excessively complicated robot that’s able to visually recognize ripe strawberries and then delicately pluck them and drop them in a basket.

The robot operates at a speed of 9 seconds per strawberry, which is probably a minimum of 9 times slower than an experienced human would be able to do it, so I’m really not sure how the designers suggest that using robots would be 60% faster. The only way I can get that type of math to work is by using an impractical number of robots, and by impractical, I mean hugely expensive. Don’t get me wrong, I think there’s a future in agricultural robots like this… But they’re going to have to find some way of overcoming cheap and efficient human labor first. This has already happened with lots of crops, but with some exceptions, fruit is significantly more difficult, because it has a ripeness factor and bruises easily.

The strawberry harvesting robot is currently being tested in the field, with a more practical production version due next year.

Via [ CrunchGear ]

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The Bionic-Hand Arms Race

The prosthetics industry is too focused on high-tech limbs that are complicated, costly, and often impractical

12 min read
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A photograph of a young woman with brown eyes and neck length hair dyed rose gold sits at a white table. In one hand she holds a carbon fiber robotic arm and hand. Her other arm ends near her elbow. Her short sleeve shirt has a pattern on it of illustrated hands.

The author, Britt Young, holding her Ottobock bebionic bionic arm.

Gabriela Hasbun. Makeup: Maria Nguyen for MAC cosmetics; Hair: Joan Laqui for Living Proof
DarkGray

In Jules Verne’s 1865 novel From the Earth to the Moon, members of the fictitious Baltimore Gun Club, all disabled Civil War veterans, restlessly search for a new enemy to conquer. They had spent the war innovating new, deadlier weaponry. By the war’s end, with “not quite one arm between four persons, and exactly two legs between six,” these self-taught amputee-weaponsmiths decide to repurpose their skills toward a new projectile: a rocket ship.

The story of the Baltimore Gun Club propelling themselves to the moon is about the extraordinary masculine power of the veteran, who doesn’t simply “overcome” his disability; he derives power and ambition from it. Their “crutches, wooden legs, artificial arms, steel hooks, caoutchouc [rubber] jaws, silver craniums [and] platinum noses” don’t play leading roles in their personalities—they are merely tools on their bodies. These piecemeal men are unlikely crusaders of invention with an even more unlikely mission. And yet who better to design the next great leap in technology than men remade by technology themselves?

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