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Frontier IP’s Fieldwork Robotics sees success in initial trials of fruit-picking robot

Further trials for the system are scheduled for later this year, with a commercial system expected to be manufactured in 2020

Fruit picking robot
Fieldwork’s robots are being designed to pick raspberries, a delicate and easily damageable fruit

Frontier IP Group Plc’s (LON:FIPP) portfolio firm, Fieldwork Robotics, has completed initial field trials of its raspberry-picking robot system at a farm owned by leading soft-fruit grower Hall Hunter.

The IP commercialisation firm, which holds a 27.5% stake in Fieldwork, said data from the trials would be used to refine and improve the prototype system before further tests were held later this year, with a commercial system scheduled to be manufactured in 2020.

READ: Frontier IP’s Fieldwork Robotics wins funding to accelerate development of fruit-picking robot

The trial was conducted at a farm in West Sussex owned by Hall Hunter, which supplies companies such as Marks and Spencer Group PLC (LON:MKS), Tesco PLC (LON:TSCO) and Waitrose.

It also follows a £547,250 funding award in April from Innovate UK, an agency set up by the British government to boost research and development of new technology.

Fieldwork’s robots are being designed to pick raspberries, a delicate and easily damageable fruit, with a view to then adapt the system to less fragile soft fruits and vegetables to replace agricultural labour.

Neil Crabb, Frontier’s chief executive, said the completion of the field trials marked an “important milestone” in commercialising the technology.

In early trading on Tuesday, Frontier IP shares were steady at 81.5p.

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