For the last five years, Abundant Robotics has been developing the world’s first robotic apple picker, with launch slated later this year.

Abundant took a non-traditional approach: The company’s harvester works like a reverse vacuum. It’s a flexible tube on wheels that uses computer vision to analyze an apple, then suck it right up. A camera on top tells the machine if an apple is ready to be picked. Each variety needs its own computer recognition process; more than 2,500 are grown in the United States.

Bext360 uses similar technology, but can be more readily cross-applied. The Denver, Colorado-based startup builds sorters that separate good coffee cherries from bad, but can also work on cocoa, nuts, and cardamom.

With coffee cherries, farmers load up to 30 kilograms from one section of the field at a time. The machine takes images of each cherry individually, analyzing color, size, density, defects, and signs of disease. The process takes around three minutes.

And that information—essentially a grade—directly affects a farmer’s bottom line. TechCrunch in 2017 covered bext360’s efforts to get small-scale farmers a fair price, and get paid instantly, by using its robot in conjunction with blockchain ledger technology.

Read the full article on agriculture robots by Terena Bell at The New Food Economy