Saga Robotics

Fruit picking robot developer uses Lincolnshire as R&D base

The company behind a fruit-picking robot is carrying out almost all its research and development in Lincolnshire.

Norway-based Saga Robotics is creating autonomous machines which can harvest crops and treat fungi infections in partnership with the Lincoln Agri-Robotics Centre at the University of Lincoln.

"Almost all our research is taking place at the University of Lincoln, and working with the university has put us in touch with big crop growers, who we're now working with," said head of deployment Halvard Grimstad.

"We're in the middle of commercialising a UV-C treatment of plants. Crops like strawberries have a big problem with 'powdery mildew', a kind of fungi. This is usually dealt with using chemical sprays, but these cause environmental concerns and the fungi is getting resistant to them.

"We have created a robot which treats crops at night with UV-C rays, when it's easier to attack the fungi. A robot can do 8km per night."

The company is also developing robots which can pick strawberries and other crops. Securing the labour to picking fruit post-Brexit has become a major issue after many eastern European pickers left the country.

Grimstad was speaking ahead of being a panellist at Insider's Lincolnshire Economic Forum 2022. The event, which takes place on the morning of 31 March at Lincolnshire Showground, will highlight how the county is leading the way in food production and distribution and green energy. Other topics to be discussed will include Lincolnshire’s transport infrastructure.

The other speakers are Janet Bellamy, associate professor in food robotics at the University of Lincoln; Martin Collison, agritech specialist, Greater Lincolnshire Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP); Ruth Hoban, head of sustainability, New England Seafood; Prof Duncan Botting, chief executive, Global Smart Transformation and chair, Greater Lincolnshire LEP Energy Council; Andy Gutherson,
executive director of place, Lincolnshire County Council; Helen Molloy, partner, Shakespeare Martineau; Jenna Frudd, relationship manager, Willmott Dixon.

For more details on this free event, and to register, click here.

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