As seen on St Pete Catalyst “Plant City company brings automation to agriculture”

Some of the most cutting-edge technology work in the Tampa-St. Pete area is taking place in farm fields in Plant City.

Harvest CROO Robotics is developing strawberry-picking robots that use autonomous vehicles, GPS, LIDAR and optics, among other technologies.

After several years in development, Harvest CROO expects to prove the commercial viability of its automated devices this season, said Gary Wishnatzki, co-founder and managing partner.

A lot is riding on the initiative, Wishnatzki said at last week’s Florida-Israel Business Accelerator Connection to Innovation.

“I can tell you that picking strawberries and other tough, physically taxing jobs aren’t going to get done in the future if we don’t automate. If we don’t, fruits and vegetables won’t be readily available to consumers in the future,” Wishnatzki said.

Harvest CROO’s robotic strawberry picker can lower the cost of harvesting the fruit, he said. Because it can operate on a 24-hour basis, including nights when the temperature drops, the fruit won’t bruise as easily and less energy is needed to cool it once picked. The technology could help farmers more precisely target which parts of their fields need treatments for disease and pests, while artificial intelligence could improve the accuracy in production forecasts.

FIBA highlighted Harvest CROO and other agtech initiatives at its Oct. 29 event because Israeli companies are tackling similar food production challenges, said Rachel Feinman, executive director of the Tampa business accelerator.

read full article on St Pete Catalyst here.

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