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Strawberry Harvesting Robot
on May 31, 2017  at 10:53 AM by Richard Griffiths


Summary of Udacity interview with Lewis Anderson, CEO of Troptic


Troptic is a silicon valley strawberry harvesting robot start-up.

Troptic consists of interdisciplinary three main team - a software specialist, a mechanical engineer and an electrical engineer. Prior to Troptic all of the team had worked together.

The robot hardware is a configuration of robot arms, computer vision, 3D cameras and a custom gripper held in a frame and then mounted on a tractor. AI selects ripe strawberries by drawing boxes around the ripe ones. The harvester's software is based on Python and C++ with a linux OS. Off the shelf software was used as much a possible so resources could be concentrated on the proprietary parts of the robot.

Café was used for the AI as it had a part of the neural net already built. Mechanical Turk - an Amazon cloud service providing a very short term massively scalable workforce - was used to label the strawberry images so the neural net could identify the ripe strawberries. Once the data was labelled Troptic's neural net performed to specification after only three days.

The business case for Troptic rests on strawberry picking accounting for 30% of a growers total costs. The robot makes money by saving waste and by reducing labour shortages. The robot is rented rather than sold out to lower entry barriers.

The initial $400,000 initial funding was from Canine, a silicon valley based micro VC.

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