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Naturipe Invests in Harvest Croo Robotics

Naturipe Berry Growers has joined the growing list of strawberry industry investors supporting Tampa, Fla.-based Harvest CROO Robotics’ mission to answer the need for agricultural labor with technology. 

As one of the largest strawberry growers in North America, Naturipe’s support increases the U.S. strawberry industry’s investment in Harvest CROO Robotics to more than 20 percent.  Other berry industry investors include Sweet Life Farms, Sam Astin III, California Giant, Main Street Produce, Sweet Darling Sales, Innovative Produce, DG Berry and Central West.

“The lack of availability of labor to harvest strawberries is one of the great challenges facing our industry,” said Rich Amirsehhi, president and CEO of Naturipe Berry Growers. “Harvest CROO Robotics’ technology to harvest berries has tremendous promise to solve this critical problem.”

Harvest CROO Robotics continues to develop and test the latest technology for agricultural robotics.  The company will test its latest prototype during the Florida strawberry season, which begins in November. 

Improvements include harvest speed and the development of an autonomous mobile platform that will carry the robotic pickers through the field.  After berries are picked, they will be transferred overhead to the platform level, where they will be inspected and packed into consumer units by delta robots.  The development of the packing robots, next year, will mark another key milestone in Harvest CROO Robotics’ technological advances.

“The technology is prepared to make a major leap this coming season,” said Bob Pitzer, co-founder and CTO of Harvest CROO.  “We were at commercial speed, last March, at a rate of 8 seconds to pick a plant.  Now by using embedded processors and a streamlined picking head design, we expect to easily cut that time in half.”

With sales and customer service offices located strategically throughout the country, including its Salinas, Calif. headquarters, Grand Junction, Mich., Estero, Fla., Boston Mass., Wenatchee, Wash. and Atlanta Ga., Amirsehhi said “Naturipe Berry Growers sees joining this collaborative effort as an important step in ensuring the sustainability of the U.S. strawberry industry and putting our growers in a position to be early adopters of the technology." 

Harvest CROO is currently fundraising in preparation for the next round of prototypes.

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