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双语新闻-为什么很快就可以用机器人来摘软水果?
发布时间:2019-09-09 作者:admin 点击:110

It takes a certain nimbleness to pick a strawberry. While crops like wheat and potatoes have been harvested mechanically for decades, many fruits and vegetables have proved resistant to automation. They are too easily bruised, or too hard for heavy farm machinery to locate.

摘草莓需要具有一定的灵活性。尽管像小麦和土豆这样的农作物实现机械化收割已有十几年的历史,但是许多水果和蔬菜被证明还是无法实现自动化。这些水果都属于非常容易烂,或者对于重型农业机械而言很难定位的类型。

But recently, technological developments and advances in machine learning have led to successful trials of more sensitive and dexterous robots, which use cameras and artificial intelligence to locate ripe fruit and handle it with care and precision.

但在最近,在设备研究方面所取得的技术进步和突破已经使更加敏感和灵活的机器人在试用中取得成功。新推出的机器人利用摄像头和人工智能来定位成熟的水果并小心精准地将其摘下。

Developed by engineers at the University of Cambridge, the Vegebot is the first robot that can identify and harvest iceberg lettuce — bringing hope to farmers that one of the most demanding crops for human pickers could finally be automated.

由剑桥大学工程师研发的机器人-Vegebot是首个可以发现卷心莴苣并将其摘下来的机器人。这一机器人使农场主有希望让最难摘的农作物实现自动化。

First, a camera scans the lettuce and, with the help of a machine learning algorithm trained on more than a thousand lettuce images, decides if it is ready for harvest. Then a second camera guides the picking cage on top of the plant without crushing it. Sensors feel when it is in the right position, and compressed air drives a blade through the stalk at a high force to get a clean cut.

首先,摄像头会扫描莴苣。然后,在已经过1000张以上莴苣图像训练的机器学习算法的帮助下,来判断莴苣是否已经成熟并可以摘除。接下来,第二个摄像头会引导位于蔬菜上方的采摘笼并确保其不会把蔬菜压伤。当机器处于正确的位置时,传感器会发出信号,随后压缩空气会以巨大冲力将刀片推过根茎并实现整齐切割。

Its success rate is high, with 91% of the crop accurately classified, according to a study published in July. But the robot is still much slower than humans, taking 31 seconds on average to pick one lettuce. Researchers say this could easily be sped up by using lighter materials.

根据9月发表的一篇研究报告,自动化采摘的成功率很高,其中91%的农作物被正确归类。但是,与平均每31秒就可以摘下一颗莴苣的人工相比,机器人的速度还是慢得多。

Such adjustments would need to be made if the robot was used commercially. "Our goal was to prove you can do it, and we've done it," Simon Birrell, co-author of the study, tells CNN Business. "Now it depends on somebody taking the baton and running forward," he says.

如果机器人被推向市场,那么则需要对速度方面进行相应调整。Simon Birrell,研究的共同作者,介绍道:“我们的目标是证明你可以做到,现在我们已经做到了。现在需要有人接过接力棒然后继续向前推进。”

More mouths to feed, but less manual labor要吃饭的人更多了,但干活的人却更少了

With the world's population expected to climb to 9.7 billion in 2050 from 7.7 billion today — meaning roughly 80 million more mouths to feed each year — agriculture is under pressure to meet rising demand for food production.

到2050年,世界人口预计会从现在的77亿增加到97亿,这意味着每年大约会有8000万张嘴需要食物。因此,面对人口对粮食生产日益增长的需要,农业面临着巨大的压力。

Added pressures from climate change, such as extreme weather, shrinking agricultural lands and the depletion of natural resources, make innovation and efficiency all the more urgent.

气候变化,比如极端天气、缩减的农业用地以及自然资源的减少等额外压力都让创新和效率变得更加迫切。

This is one reason behind the industry's drive to develop robotics. The global market for agricultural drones and robots is projected to grow from $2.5 billion in 2018 to $23 billion in 2028, according to a report from market intelligence firm BIS Research.

这就是为什么农业领域希望开发机器人的原因之一。根据市场情报公司BIS Research所发布的一篇报告,全球的农业无人机和机器人市场预计会从2018年的25亿美元增加到2028年的230亿美元。

"Agriculture robots are expected to have a higher operating speed and accuracy than traditional agriculture machinery, which shall lead to significant improvements in production efficiency," Rakhi Tanwar, principal analyst of BIS Research, tells CNN Business.

Rakhi Tanwar,BIS Research首席分析师,介绍说:“农业机器人会比传统农业设备速度更快、精确性更高,而这将会大幅提高生产效率”。

On top of this, growers are facing a long-term labor shortage. According to the World Bank, the share of total employment in agriculture in the world has declined from 43% in 1991 to 28% in 2018.

此外,种植农户将面临长期的劳动力缺乏。根据世界银行数据,农业全球总雇工的占比已经从1991年的43%下降到2018年的28%。

Tanwar says this is partly due to a lack of interest from younger generations. "The development of robotics in agriculture could lead to a massive relief to the growers who suffer from economic losses due to labor shortage," she says.

Tanwar表示,这部分和年轻人对农业缺乏兴趣有关。她表示:“农业机器人的开发可以极大地减轻种植农户的负担,使他们不再会因为劳动力短缺而面临经济损失。”

Robots can work all day and night, without stopping for breaks, and could be particularly useful during intense harvest periods.

机器人可以不分昼夜地工作并且不需要任何休息,因此在农忙时节特别有用。

"The main benefit is durability," says Martin Stoelen, a lecturer in robotics at the University of Plymouth and founder of Fieldwork Robotics, which has developed a raspberry-picking robot in partnership with Hall Hunter, one of the UK's major berry growers.

Martin Stoelen,普利茅斯大学机器人专业讲师、Fieldwork Robotics创始人,与Hall Hunter,英国大型浆果种植商之一联合开发出一款可以摘取覆盆子的机器人。Martin表示:“机器人最主要的优势就是持久性。”

Their robots, expected to go into production next year, will operate more than 20 hours a day and seven days a week during busy periods, "which human pickers obviously can't do," says Stoelen.

他们的机器人预计会在明年投入生产,可以在农忙时节一天工作20小时以上,一周工作七天。“而这显然是人工所无法做到的”,Stoelen表示。

Sustainable farming and food waste

可持续性的农业和食物垃圾

Robots could also lead to more sustainable farming practices. They could enable growers to use less water, less fuel, and fewer pesticides, as well as producing less waste, says Tanwar.

机器人可以带来更加可持续的耕种实践。他们可以使农户使用更少的水、更少的燃料以及更少的杀虫剂,并从而产生更少的垃圾。

At the moment, a field is typically harvested once, and any unripe fruits or vegetables are left to rot. Whereas, a robot could be trained to pick only ripe vegetables and, working around the clock, it could come back to the same field multiple times to pick any stragglers.

目前的做法是,当某块农田收割过一次后,那些未成熟的水果或蔬菜就会被剩下直到烂掉。但是,现在机器人在经过训练后可以只摘取成熟的蔬菜并不分昼夜的工作。此外,机器人还可以多次返回同一片农田摘取任何成熟的蔬菜。

Birrell says that this will be the most important impact of robot pickers. "Right now, between a quarter and a third of food just rots in the field, and this is often because you don't have humans ready at the right time to pick them," he says.

Birrell表示,这就是采摘机器人最大的作用。目前,大约有四分之一到三分之一的水果或蔬菜就在农田里腐烂掉了,因为人类采摘者无法正好在他们成熟时就把他们摘下来。

A successful example of this is the strawberry-picking robot developed by Octinion, a Belgium-based engineering startup.

农业机器人成功的案例就是由Octinion,一家比利时的工程新兴企业所研发的草莓采摘机器人。

The robot — which launched this year and is being used by growers in the UK and the Netherlands — is mounted on a self-driving trolley to serve table top strawberry production.

这款机器人已于今年推出并正在被英国和荷兰的种植农户所使用。这款机器人安装在一个自行驱动的手推车上以摘取草莓。

It uses 3D vision to locate the ripe berry, softly grips it with a pair of plastic pincers, and — just like a human — turns it 90 degrees to snap it from the stalk, before dropping it gently into a punnet.

机器人利用3D摄像头来定位成熟的莓果,然后用一对塑料钳子轻轻将其夹住。随后,机器人会像人工采摘者一样,将莓果旋转90度,以将其从树枝上拧下来。最后,再将其轻轻放入小果篮。

"Robotics have the potential to convert the market from (being) supply-driven to demand-driven," says Tom Coen, CEO and founder of Octinion. "That will then help to reduce food waste and increase prices," he adds.

Tom Coen,Octinion的CEO兼创始人表示:“机器人有潜力将目前的供方市场转变为需方市场。机器人可以帮助农户减少食品浪费并增加收益”,他补充表示。

Harsh conditions严苛的外界环境

One major challenge with agricultural robots is adapting them for all-weather conditions. Farm machinery tends to be heavy-duty so that it can withstand rain, snow, mud, dust and heat.

农业机器人所面临的一大挑战就是需要适应各种天气环境。农业设备一般都非常结实耐用,因为只有这样它才可以经受雨水、雪、泥、灰尘和炎热。

"Building robots for agriculture is very different to building it for factories," says Birrell. "Until you're out in the field, you don't realize how robust it needs to be — it gets banged and crashed, you go over uneven surfaces, you get rained on, you get dust, you get lightning bolts."

Birrell表示:“生产农业机器人和生产工厂机器人完全不同。在你实际来到农田之前,你无法意识到机器人到底需要多牢固。机器人会受到撞击和碰撞,需要越过不平的表面,会遭到雨淋,会布满灰尘并遭到雷击。”

California-based Abundant Robotics has built an apple robot to endure the full range of farm conditions. It consists of an apple-sucking tube on a tractor-like contraption, which drives itself down an orchard row, while using computer vision to locate ripe fruit.

一家位于加州的Abundant Rototics已经生产出一款苹果采摘机器人,这款机器人能够适应所有的农业环境。机器人包括一个苹果吸管。吸管位于和拖拉机类似的机械装置上。这款装置可以自己在一排排苹果树之间移动并利用电脑摄像头定位成熟的苹果。

This spells the start of automation for orchard crops, says Dan Steere, CEO of Abundant Robotics. "Automation has steadily improved agricultural productivity for centuries," he says. "[We] have missed out on much of those benefits until now."

这预示着苹果作物自动化采摘的开始,Dan Steere,Abundant Robotics的CEO表示。“几个世纪以来,自动化已在逐步改善农业的效率,我们已经错失了许多自动化所带来的益处。”


消息来源:CNN, 编辑:质控部Susan