At Wageningen UR in the Netherlands, the multi-national Clever Robots for Crops (CROPS) project has developed a robot that is hand-guided by a 3D camera to locate and select only ripe fruit.
"In upcoming weeks the performance of the system in terms of harvest success, cycle times and causes of failures will be determined," according to the project website (crops-robots.eu).
Researchers have calculated that, with a cycle time of six seconds per pepper, the robot would have to cost less than EUR195,000 (£160,000) and have a working life of five years to outperform human pickers. One robot can cover 1.4ha of a modern sweet pepper greenhouse.
The project is also looking at the feasibility of robotic monitoring, planting, pruning and tying in of peppers.