We've all heard the stories about automated cooking and delivery systems putting a lot of fast food workers out of a job in the near future. Well now, here come the robots to pick fruit in the orchards, and could potentially work 24-hours a day.

Born largely out of labor shortages that have plagued the agricultural industry the last few years, two companies plan to bring to market in the next two years fully automated harvesting machines.

According to the Spokesman Review, two robotics companies, Abundant Robotics and FFRobotics, plan to put them on display soon. Representatives of the two companies gave a detailed report recently at the International Fruit Tree Association's 60th annual conference last week in Wenatchee.

The companies say the machines will begin with apples, but could be modified to even pick peaches, oranges and cherries. Some of the advantages, say the companies, are no cumbersome fruit bags, no hauling to bins across the orchard, less bruising of the fruit. They also say the machines would be capable of working 24-hours, which would great reduce the time needed for harvest.

According to the presentations, farmers would be looking at about a two year return on investment, meaning after using the machines for two seasons, they would see profit.

Officials with the companies say at least 80-90 percent of the fruit would be picked by the machines, leaving far less for humans to come behind and gather, thereby solving labor shortage issues.

Well, he's red like an apple! (Getty Images)
Well, he's red like an apple! (Getty Images)


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