Robots created by San diego company riding into farm fields

Vision Robotics looks to revolutionize farming

SAN DIEGO - Robots are about to revolutionize farming and a San Diego company is leading the charge.

In a Sorrento Valley office, prototypes are being developed for a wine grape pruner developed by Vision Robotics.

Equipped with computers and cameras, the device is hitched to a tractor and sent into the field.

Cameras create a 3D model of the vine and feed the image to the computer. On the grape vine, numerous factors go into what is pruned and where it's pruned. All of that is inputted into the computer.

The computer then decides where and how much to clip and the robot arms do the rest. Cameras on the arms can detect wind movement and move the clippers as needed.

The robot can replace the work of two to three workers.

Another robot that's now being sold by the company is a lettuce trimmer.

"It looks at distance between the lettuce, along with attributes like size and leafiness, in determining what gets clipped," said Bret Wallach, president of Vision Robotics.

While an operator monitors the work, that device replaces the work of dozens of workers.

"The reason growers have come to us to build these machines -- they've had trouble finding the labor," said Wallach.

Wallach declined to reveal how much the robots cost, but 10News learned the machines could help the bottom line for consumers by cutting down long-term costs.

The next challenge now being worked on by Vision Robotics and others is a robot that can delicately pick oranges without bruising the fruit.

Several of the lettuce trimmers have already been sold and are being used in the Salinas area.

The grape pruners are due out at the end of the 2014.



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