Researchers at BSC Electronics in Perth, Australia have developed a berry-harvesting robot that can kill fungi on the fruits it picks. The robot, designed specifically for use on strawberries, uses ultraviolet (UV) light to eliminate the mold-causing microbes.

The robot uses a 3D color camera to find a strawberry and discern its ripeness before picking it. Because of its height, the prototype has proven most effective at harvesting strawberries that are hydroponically grown.

The antifungal UV light that is built into the robot is a technology with which the U.S. is already familiar, according to engineer Robert Walker. He stated that, in years past, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) discovered that a certain fungus that is particularly problematic for strawberry crops is unable to protect itself from UV light at nighttime; therefore, using the robot’s UV technology at night can enhance its antifungal efficacy.

The berry-harvesting robot has the potential to enhance food safety and eliminate the use of chemical fungicides, although it has yet to be commercially adopted by growers.

BSC Electronics: