back to article Robot cauliflower harvesters to replace vanishing migrants

UK government boffins have announced that they will develop a sophisticated new infravision system, intended to let robotic machinery harvest cauliflowers and lettuces. With the migrant labourers who normally do this deserting Blighty's shores in droves, droid harvesters are seen as the only way to prevent crops rotting in the …


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  1. peter garner

    So use the other workforce!!!

    "Falling numbers of migrant labourers means that healthy crops cannot be gathered"

    So, we have vast numbers of the long-term unemployed and petty criminals wandering around with tags and ASBOs as our prisons are too full - why not get them to harvest the crops? Or would that violate their human rights?


  2. Bumpy Cat

    No to robo-harvesters!

    Today cauliflowers, tomorrow puny humans!

  3. Anonymous Coward

    For God's Sake...

    don't tell the Daily Mail.

    a) That the immigrants are leaving (they will have nothing to write about)

    b) That our food is being zapped by robots! They will insist that we need to have a label telling us so, so we can make an (il)informed choice!

    I'll get the yummy mummys to jump in there 4x4's and form a picket line.

    What you mean the 4x4's have to go into the countryside, where there is mud and a lack of Deli's? Oh scrap that idea, lets get a Latte instead.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Take the money they'd spend developing this and use it to boost up the pay of veg pickers and get some people off the dole.

  5. SynicNZ

    Real cause of waste?

    Just how much of the wastage is caused by the supermarkets rejecting the produce because of its shape or colour rather than the lack of pickers?

  6. TeeCee Gold badge

    I, for one...

    ...welcome our brassica and lettuce ripeness detecting robotic harvester Overlords.

    Tremble in your beds at their might all cauliflower scum!

  7. Adam Salisbury
    Thumb Up

    @ Pete Garner

    Good call, get the loafers, shivers and sucmbags doing something useful, half of them probably blame the immigints for their situation to start with

  8. Anonymous Coward

    Damn robots...

    Coming here, taking all the jobs! OUR jobs!

    I'm waiting for the Panorama investigation into poor working conditions for harvest-bots. There's a techie joke about bonded labour in there somewhere. I'll leave it to someone more intelligent to dream it up.

  9. Graham Bartlett

    Shouldn't be too hard

    I mean, if people can invent a chicken hoover to automatically collect up the contents of a barn and convert them into McNuggets, surely a cauliflower machine would be easier? After all, cauliflowers don't flap around or anything.

    (And seriously, there was a chicken hoover for collecting them up. Amazing bit of kit.)

  10. NRT

    If they go the microwave route,

    they can harvest the crop ready cooked.


  11. Anonymous Coward


    Bet the BetaMax version is technicaly much better...

  12. Bassey

    Did this

    I did this for several years during school and later university. It's a perfect job for all the students who are complaining there are no seasonal jobs to go around because of the recession. Of course, it's hard, physical labour and involves wielding a big, heavy, very sharp knife so the Student Union/Elf'n'Safety brigade would probably put a kibosh on that!

  13. The BigYin

    Robots not needed

    We have 2.4 million "unemployed". I say "unemployed" because only a portion are genuinely unemployed, the rest are feckless, lazy b'stards.

    Rather than waste money on robo-pickers, simply make picking up the hand-outs dependent on them picking enough veg.

    It's win-win-win.

    The farmer gets cheap/free labour, the feckless b'stards get an idea of what it means to do work and the government gets to cut the benefits (thus, save my taxes) for all those too lazy to get off their fat arse.

    Same goes for all the detritus that is scattered all over Britain. Put the unemployed to work picking it all up (or the ASBO brigade or whomever).

  14. Anonymous John

    @ If they go the microwave route

    Damn you N RT! I wanted to say that.

  15. Kerrplunk

    Problem is

    the great mass of unemployed yoof wouldn't recognise a cauliflower even if they were stood in a field full of them.

  16. I didn't do IT.


    So, the veg is irradiated to unknown levels, an unknown number of times (until "ripe"), and then collected lovingly by the cold, hard, machines.

    Truly, there is a place for humanity in the Grand Harvest.

  17. James 63
    Thumb Up

    I can just imagine...

    Is it just me, or does this sound like the perfect storyline to a Wallace and Gromit episode?

  18. densest

    packet switching pre-1970 &c.

    I connected to the ARPAnet using packet switching technology in 1969. If I recall correctly, the connection I used had been operating for over a year, perhaps two, at the time. The basic concepts involved have not changed since then so any claims to invention need to predate this.

    The harvesting technology is very significant. Since farmers tend to skimp on hygiene or hygenic break time for their field employees, fecal contamination of vegetables and fruits is a very serious problem. A successful mechanical harvester would improve E. coli transmission prevention, for an example.

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