CNH expands high-tech harvesting stake with investment in Advanced Farm Technologies

night time shot of the advanced farm apple picking robot in an orchard.

CNH continues to support the acceleration of smart harvesting technologies with a minority investment in the California-based start-up Advanced Farm Technologies, which specializes in the robotic harvesting of apples, strawberries, and other fruits. The two businesses will partner to drive industry and ecosystem innovation by collaborating across R&D and commercialization.

Shifting to robotic picking has great potential to significantly improve fruit farmers’ productivity by harvesting high-value crops up to five times more efficiently. In the United States, 46% of the production cost of apples comes from handpicking labor, 70% in the case of strawberries. These high labor costs are exacerbated by a continued downward trend in handpicking workforce availability.


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Advanced Farm Technologies’ system uses computer vision and a machine learning tech stack to pick the best fruit, either during the day or at night, while gently handling it to avoid bruising and damage. Their system’s robotic arms with gentle grippers, a serial-hybrid drive system, autonomous navigation and automated bin handling are among the key features. This automated platform eliminates the need to carry a ladder from tree to tree – vastly reducing the strain of a repetitive and arduous task.

CNH is in a technology growth mode, committed to customer-inspired innovation. This latest investment is part of our broader strategy to bring cutting-edge solutions to our portfolio. We are especially focused on automated, autonomous, and sustainable farming innovations that solve important and complex challenges for our customers.

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Written by

Mike Oitzman

Mike Oitzman is Senior Editor of WTWH's Robotics Group, cohost of The Robot Report Podcast, and founder of the Mobile Robot Guide. Oitzman is a robotics industry veteran with 25-plus years of experience at various high-tech companies in the roles of marketing, sales and product management. He can be reached at moitzman@wtwhmedia.com.