But Dave Barrett, director of the Intelligent Vehicle Laboratory at Franklin W. Olin College, Needham, Mass., disagreed, saying orchard robots are closer -- and more affordable -- than many in the tree fruit industry realize.
Barrett, with a 30-year career in designing industrial, military and consumer robots, said researchers have built robots that can pick up pretzels and croissants or juggle eggs.
Military applications, as they did earlier with Global Positioning Systems, have sped development.
Replacing the grace and efficiency of a farm worker speedily moving through fields and orchards with a mechanized version won’t be easy, no matter the growing impatience of the general public and the farm community for such an outcome. It may take far longer than ten years before we see robots picking cherries and peaches, if in fact the day ever comes.
If we can send a man to the moon, it can be done. But that will be one expensive peach.
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