Naturipe Seeks Innovative Ideas in Blueberry Harvesting Automation, Offering 250K in Incentives
SALINAS, CA - Naturipe Farms is calling for industry innovators and creative geniuses all over to develop the next generation in automated blueberry harvesting technology.
With $250,000 in incentives up for grabs and demand for blueberries at a record high, Naturipe has issued a challenge to seek new solutions and improvements to automated blueberry harvesting.
“The majority of the blueberries are picked by hand at the peak of maturity and flavor. However, the berries don’t ripen at the same time so we return to the same bush several times during the harvest season, which is both costly and a labor intensive process,” explained Robert Verloop, Executive Vice President of Marketing at Naturipe.
Thus began the search for an automated harvesting system that can be used in blueberry fields and deliver high quality fresh blueberries to supermarkets and restaurants.
Worldwide technology transfer consultancy yet2 is managing the challenge and submissions for Naturipe Farms, according to a press release.
The winners of the challenge will have an opportunity to establish a strategic partnership with Naturipe and to deliver the next generation in automated blueberry harvesting technologies worldwide.
“There has been tremendous growth and interest in agricultural technology, robotics, and sensory equipment to improve harvesting efficiencies, to manage costs, and to reduce food waste,” Verloop continued. “We hope the ‘Naturipe Blue Challenge’ will help solve some of our on-the-farm challenges.”
The following proposed operating specifications include: size/color sensing for detecting fruit maturity, careful handling to avoid any damage to the fruit, ability to directly fill field trays/baskets, 24/7 harvesting capability, average production of 500 Kg/day, mobility capabilities on uneven ground or dusty conditions, and fabrication costs per unit <$500,000 USD.
The initial proposal submission deadline is September 30, 2015. All proposals submitted by this date ensure that they will receive thorough feedback from yet2 by October 16, 2015 to be incorporated into the final proposal submission. The final proposal submission deadline is on October 30, 2015. Semifinalists will be selected on December 16, 2015.
For more information on Naturipe’s challenge, click here.