This Robot Can Pick Up Fruit Without Squishing It

The next industry to get taken over by robots might be grocery stores. Online supermarket company Ocado has been working with the European Union-funded SoMa (Soft Manipulation) project to create a robot that can handle fruits and vegetables as delicately as a human would. There are several Ocado robots in testing right now, and the company just released a video of one of them, as the MIT Technology Review reports.

Fruits and vegetables vary in size and shape and can be delicate, making them extremely difficult for automated systems to handle. A grocery warehouse can be largely automated, but people still have to be on hand to pick up the produce.

Ocado attached the bendy RBO Hand-2, a robotic gripper from the Technische Universität Berlin that looks like it’s made of Slinkies, to two different robot arms, and tested the system on artificial fruit in a standard container. They found that it could pick up a range of sizes and shapes from the tray, especially if the object was packed so that it couldn’t roll away.

The system is still in development, and Ocado is planning on testing it in more realistic situations, like with more items within the fruit container for the robot to fish out. But the initial trials suggest that robot hands can be delicate enough to handle soft objects without squishing them into pulp.

Go ahead and watch it in action:

[h/t MIT Technology Review]

All images courtesy Ocado

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TASCHEN
Everything You Need to Know About Food in One Book
TASCHEN
TASCHEN

If you find yourself mixing up nigiri and sashimi at sushi restaurants or don’t know which fruits are in season, then this is the book for you. Food & Drink Infographics, published by TASCHEN, is a colorful and comprehensive guide to all things food and drink.

The book combines tips and tricks with historical context about the ways in which different civilizations illustrated and documented the foods they ate, as well as how humans went from hunter-gatherers to modern-day epicureans. As for the infographics, there’s a helpful graphic explaining the number of servings provided by different cake sizes, a heat index of various chilies, a chart of cheeses, and a guide to Italian cold cuts, among other delectable charts.

The 480-page coffee table book, which can be purchased on Amazon for $56, is written in three languages: English, French, and German. The infographics themselves come from various sources, and the text is provided by Simone Klabin, a New York City-based writer and lecturer on film, art, culture, and children’s media.

Keep scrolling to see a few of the infographics featured in the book.

An infographic about cheese
TASCHEN

An infographic about cakes
Courtesy of TASCHEN

An infographic about fruits in season
Courtesy of TASCHEN

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