Harvest CROO Robotics Wins Grant from National Science Foundation
TAMPA, FL – Recognized for its drive to answer agricultural labor needs with the possibilities of technology, Harvest CROO Robotics has been awarded a grant worth up to $1 million by the National Science Foundation. The award will be given to the company in two stages.
“This generous grant helps us move the project forward,” said Gary Wishnatzki, Co-Founder of Harvest CROO Robotics and Owner of Wish Farms. “Working, in the field, with the mobile platform this strawberry season will allow us to analyze results and develop improvements.”
The company was awarded $225,000 by the Small Business Innovation Research Program Phase I to use towards the continued development and research of its robotic strawberry picker. According to a press release, the Harvest CROO team submitted a 20-page proposal that detailed plans to develop a fully autonomous strawberry-picking platform.
Phase I will run from December 15 to November 30. During this time, the company research and develop software and hardware tools to orchestrate a team of robotic subsystems. Harvest CROO will aim to meet the speed and cost requirements of a commercially viable robotic harvester for strawberries.
“The grant will allow us to hire additional qualified staff members,” said Harvest CROO Robotics CFO Mark Brown. “This will help us to better solve one of the last remaining technical hurdles of bringing the harvester to market.”
The strawberry picker prototype, first cultivated three years ago, was developed as a potential solution to the industry’s lack of available labor to harvest strawberries. The robotic prototype is able to identify, select, and pick only ripe strawberries in the field, while leaving unripe berries and plants unharmed. Harvest CROO continued to stated that its strawberry tech will improve the quality of berries picked, reduce energy used, and increase yields by at least ten percent.
"We are very excited and honored to be awarded the SBIR Phase I grant,” continued Brown. “Especially since only a small number of businesses that apply are funded."
Last season, the picking rate was eight seconds per plant. That rate is expected to be cut in half this season, with further improvements to enable the picker to be even faster.
As Harvest CROO Robotics continues to gain traction with its innovative picker, stick with AndNowUKnow for all the latest in technological advancements.