A cash prize of $200,000 is being offered to the innovator who develops an automated blueberry-harvesting machine that can replace manual labour.
Naturipe Farms, a grower-owned producer of berries in the Americas, is calling for proposals via yet2 for a machine that will carefully handle berries to avoid damage, fill field trays and/or baskets, pick around 500Kg of fruit a day, and operate 24/7, including night time.
Other main specifications require the machine to cost less than $500,000 per unit, be able to differentiate the size and colour of berries for maturity calibration, and be mobile enough to operate on uneven ground or under dusty conditions.
Additional favourable features for the machine include the ability to detect firmness, pests and disease, register plant yield, and be georeferenced.
According to Naturipe’s website, the call for proposals represents “an opportunity to establish a strategic partnership with a global leader in berry production to deliver the next generation in blueberry harvesting worldwide.”
One to five semi-finalists will receive a $10,000 prize and will be able to further develop their concept and budget milestones with Naturipe.
The entry that delivers a working a prototype will receive a $200,000 prize.
The call for proposals began on July 15, 2015. The deadline for initial proposal submissions falls on September 30, 2015, with final proposals due on October 30, 2015.
More details on the Big Blue Challenge can be found at naturipechallenge.com.