According to Asst of Pennsylvania State University. Prof. Long He, the mushroom industry is currently facing a labor shortage. So his team set out to solve that problem, by developing a mushroom-picking robot.
Specially designed for use on button mushrooms (Agaricus bisporus) grown on a media system, electro-pneumatic equipment capable of picking mushrooms, cutting off the ends of the stems, and then placing them in a collection box. The plans call for it to eventually use a machine vision system, to initially see and target individual mushrooms.
Actual picking is made possible by an adjustable pressure suction cup that latches onto the top of each mushroom cap then pulls upwards. Different air pressures and suction times were tested, to achieve a combination that would allow the mushrooms to be picked, lowered to the robotic blade, then placed in the can – all without bruising the meat.
In the laboratory tests performed to date, the robot has proven to be 94.2% successful in mushroom picking and 97% successful in pruning stems. It is believed that those numbers will improve as the form of the suction cup has been optimized for the task.
“The mushroom industry in Pennsylvania is producing about two-thirds of the mushrooms grown nationally, and mushroom growers here are having a hard time finding workers to harvest, which is a huge undertaking,” said He. It is very laborious and difficult.” “The industry is facing a number of challenges, so an automated system for harvesting like the one we’re working on would be a big help.”
Source: Penn State