AI Machine Monitors Quality in Produce Processing

A team led by Professor Yongsheng Gao – from Griffith University’s School of Engineering and Built Environment and the Institute for Integrated Intelligence Systems – has developed an artificial intelligence machine that ensures the consistent quality of strawberries passing through a conveyor belt system. Their technology is able to detect all kinds of foreign objects – such as debris, insects or bandages that have accidentally slipped in during the packing process – along with unripened, undersized, and bruised fruit.

“There is definitely a need from the industry,” Gao said. “Inconsistency of different workers results in inconsistent fruit quality and this machine will help maintain a high standard of consistency.”

Gao stated that currently there was no way of figuring out which worker was responsible for bad batches rejected by supermarkets.

“Our system can identify the linkage, so that person can be retrained instead of all 300 workers being blamed for the error of one,” he said. “It also encourages good behavior, because it’s monitored. It’s a deterrent for people [tampering with fruit]. This system is progressively evolving; but if the strawberry is tampered with or abnormal, it will detect it.”

It’s expected that farms will be able to increase prices and prevent loss with the use of the AI technology. The project has been given $5 million AU  in funding from the Australian Government.

“We want to help growers grow better produce and lower their costs using the wealth of technologies that we have at our disposal,” said Professor Gao.  “I think we were successful because of the trust from the industry and the partner organizations to give us the opportunity to lead these projects. This is obviously recognition of our previous track record, our current work and achievements in this area, and also our strong capability in using artificial intelligence in integrated farming production and disease prevention areas.”