Tampa, FLA (July 11, 2016) – Harvest CROO Robotics is developing and testing the latest technology for agricultural robotics – an automated strawberry picker to help alleviate the labor shortage the industry is facing. Its first U.S. Patent approval marks one of Harvest CROO’s milestone accomplishments. The Pitzer Wheel, named after co-founder and inventor Bob Pitzer, is an autonomous and continuous picking wheel on the apparatus.
“Our biggest differentiator has always been that growers will not have to change the way they currently grow strawberries,” said Gary Wishnatzki, co-founder of Harvest CROO and owner of Wish Farms. “Now, with the patent of the Pitzer Wheel, what I believe to be the heart of the invention, we have another strong distinguishing factor.”
The picking wheel uses conservation of motion as opposed to a “pick and move” motion. It picks the initial berry, then rotates to expose the next claw to pick another berry at a rapid rate. Once a strawberry is picked by one of the six food-grade silicon claws, it is rotated to the top of the wheel. From here, the berry is carefully placed into a cup that will then be transferred to a central location on the machine, to be inspected for a second time, before placing into consumer packs. This is all done without human intervention. For a video of the Pitzer Wheel, click here.
“By reaching this milestone to protect the intellectual property of one of the key components of our machine, we are steps closer in our mission to revolutionizing the ag-tech industry,” said Wishnatzki.
Since the start of the project, Harvest CROO has filed a total of six patents. Current patent-pending applications include GPS navigation techniques, an altitude control system and leaf manipulation concepts for harvest. The company’s breakthrough vision technology, used to identify the perfect ripe berry, is being held as a trade secret.
Harvest CROO is currently fundraising in preparation for the next round of prototypes. To learn more about Harvest CROO, including investment opportunities, contact [email protected].
About Harvest CROO:
Harvest CROO (Computerized Robotic Optimized Obtainer) began in 2012 on Gary Wishnatzki’s vision of creating a solution to the dwindling labor force in agriculture. With the expertise of co-founder and Chief Technical Officer, Bob Pitzer, they began developing the first Harvest CROO machines. In Previous rounds, $1.8 million was raised through qualified investors. Many of these investors are members of the strawberry industry, including Sweet Life Farms, Sam Astin III, California Giant, Inc., Main Street Produce, Inc., Sweet Darling Sales, Inc. Innovative Produce Inc., DG Berry, Inc., and Central West. In Round C, Harvest CROO is seeking to raise $3 million to build the next version, the Alpha unit, which will be the predecessor to a production model. To learn more about Harvest CROO, including current career opportunities for experienced engineers, contact [email protected].