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European Fruit Magazine

Slovenian apple picking robot

At the Interpoma trade fair, in mid-November 2022, in the North Italian town of Bolzano, a Slovenian company showed an until now rather unknown prototype of an apple picking robot: the Slopehelper. The robot picks apples by pressing them gently between two robot hands. The robot arm puts the apples on a belt after which the apples are transported to a bin filler present on the machine. With one single arm, the machine still has too little capacity, but three more robot arms are added on the machine. The four-armed version will be tested in an orchard in 2023. During the past few years, the prototype has been progressively improved, on the basis of fruit growers’ experiences, who have tested the machine in their orchards.
The Slopehelper is completely electric. Fully charged, the machine can work for 8 to 14 hours. The machine drives on caterpillar tracks, so that it can also drive on muddy soil. With a view to maintenance and reliability, for the construction, as much as possible mechanically operating parts have been used and the use of pneumatic parts is limited.