Robot workers being designed
Friday 2 Nov 2018Robots with ‘arms and hands’ could prune vineyards and orchards across New zealand in the near future. The Government has granted University of Auckland researchers NZ$16.8 million to develop a robotic automation system to upskill human workers, and do manual tasks.
Professor Bruce MacDonald said robots will not take people’s jobs, rather plug NZ’s endemic labour shortage and allow the industry to use humans for higher-value jobs. “The industry can’t get enough people to do this work and over the past couple of years it has got worse. It used to be difficult and now it’s impossible.”
In the first phase of the five-year project, sensors will monitor what experts do on orchards and vineyards. Augmented reality technology would then train new workers to do a better job, he said.
“They will wear glasses and it will show them, for instance, how to prune vines.” In the second phase, the robot will have arms and hands and automatically do things taught by human operators.
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