It’s a classic conundrum: Everyone wants coconuts, but no one wants to pick them.
Fear not, though. Students at Amrita University in Kerala have developed a solution—a coconut-harvesting robot.
The students began exploring this idea when a coconut farmer approached them about it in 2013, the Times of India reports. Three years later, they have unveiled their machine, which has grasping arms, a chunky torso, and several circular-sawblade appendages. (You can see some pictures of it here.)
Coconut harvesting is a field ripe for disruption. It’s hard, dangerous work—you either have to climb the tree and hang on while plucking the coconuts, or stand beneath it and saw them off with a long, blade-ended stick. The young people who would normally do it have lately been “taking up more ‘dignified’ professions,” the Times of India says.
Even those people who have stuck with the job are less than efficient: your average human can pick only 80 coconuts in a day. Instead, many farmers are using captive macaque monkeys, who can harvest up to 1600, NPR reported last year.
This robot, which requires only about 20 minutes of setup, can harvest a coconut in seconds. It can be controlled by remote or smartphone. Its inventors, who are pursuing large-scale production, expect that one robot will be enough to help out a whole village. Will a follow-up robot help us put the lime in it? Only time will tell.
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