India's surging tech industry means that its population is increasingly turning towards tech jobs. Strangely enough, this has provided both a problem and a potential solution for the country's huge coconut industry.
India is facing a real shortage of coconut harvesters as more people turn away from the risky job. That's why a group of scientists from Amrita Vishwa Vidyapeetham University has built a tree-climbing coconut-harvesting robot that could one day be mass-produced.
The prototype device was designed and built by a team led by Asst. Prof. Rajesh Kannan Megalingam. The robot, called Amaran, is currently in its sixth iteration, and has been in development for three years, New Atlas reports.
Amaran is composed of a ring-shaped body that can be adjusted to fit around the base of coconut trees of different sizes. It also boasts eight inward-facing omnidirectional rubber wheels, which allow the robot to make its way to the top of the tree — or as we like to call it, the coconut zone.
Amaran is wirelessly controlled from the ground via a joystick unit or a smartphone app that allows the users to move the robot up and down as well as to rotate it around the tree so as to place its circular saw blade in the right position so as to chop down a batch of coconuts.
Successful field tests
The researchers carried out field tests at a coconut farm, in which the robot was shown to be able to successfully climb trees up to 50 ft (15.2 m) in height, with trunk inclinations of up to 30 degrees.
What's more, while Amaran doesn't work as fast as human coconut harvesters, it can work for much longer hours, meaning it can likely make up the difference.
The researchers published a paper on their work in the journal IEEE/ASME Transactions on Mechatronics.
Check out the cocobot in action in the video below.