People are fundamental to the operation of modern soft fruit farms. They are a precious resource, and we value them enormously. The problem is that our customers can’t recruit enough people to meet their needs. Dogtooth Technologies is tackling this problem by building smart autonomous robots intended to make the human workforce more productive.
Dogtooth is a Cambridge-based technology start-up building state-of-the-art intelligent robots for soft fruit picking.
Ten years ago, it was difficult to imagine robots picking delicate berry fruits as well as people. But enormous progress in the field of machine learning and computer vision means that robotic picking is now a reality.
Dogtooth is pioneering the use of the most sophisticated robot control systems in applications that previously needed increasingly difficult-to-recruit human labour. But this means more than developing technology in a lab. Since day one, we’ve been working alongside customers to develop picking solutions capable of use in real farms.
Our team of engineering superstars is solving the problem not only of building robot control systems capable of achieving sufficient visual acuity and dexterity, but also of deploying robots into challenging real-world environments, operating robots safely alongside farm personnel, and manufacturing robots at scale.
Dogtooth was founded by Dr Duncan Robertson, Ed Herbert and Mat Cook. The business has been funded to date by Innovate UK awards, several angel investors led by Peter Cowley (Chair of Cambridge Angels), the Martlet Fund, and Angel CoFund.
Our strawberry picking robots work with the table-top growing systems widely used around the world. They are capable of autonomous navigation along crop rows, locating and picking ripe fruit, grading picked berries, and placing them directly into punnets.
Dogtooth is working with prospective customers around the world. As well as alleviating the growing difficulty of recruiting enough skilled picking labour, other benefits provided by robotic picking solutions are of even more interest to customers, e.g.:
• consistent picking performance throughout the working day
• grading and quality control in-situ without repeated handling
• night time picking when temperatures are lower – maximising the shelf life of picked fruit; and
• data gathering for precision crop management to optimise yields, quality and marketing.