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Tea-picking robot operates at West Lake Longjing Tea plantation

www.ehangzhou.gov.cn| Updated: March 24, 2023 L M S


The tea-picking robot. [Photo/WeChat account: zhejiangzhisheng]

A special tea picker has been operating at a West Lake Longjing tea plantation in Hangzhou in recent days. It is the world's first tea-picking robot, but how does it work?

The robot uses two mechanical arms to move back and forth as it searches for tea buds. When it locates one, it uses a pair of scissors and a suction device attached to the end of its mechanical arm to cut and collect the tea bud.

Jia Jiangming, a member of the R&D team, said that the tea-picking robot is equipped with a pair of 3D eyes that can automatically identify tender tea leaves through artificial intelligence technology.

"The technology is called deep learning in artificial intelligence. We need to first take many photos to tell the machine which targets it can pick, and when the photos are enough, the machine will learn by itself. The technology is also constantly improving," Jia said.


The tea-picking robot. [Photo/WeChat account: zhejiangzhisheng]

After three years of development, the robot has now been upgraded to the fifth generation, and it takes just 1.5 seconds to pick a tea bud, with an accuracy rate of 86 percent.

Ruan Jianyun, a tea expert, said, "Now we have solved one problem, but we still need to work harder to apply it to production. One problem is the efficiency and quality of tea picking, and the other is the cost of the machine."

In recent years, mechanization has been widely applied in the tea production industry. Drones are used for fertilization and pest control, mountain trains help transport goods, and tea frying machines have been used in almost every Longjing Tea plantation in Zhejiang province. However, the picking of premium teas still relies on manual labor.

Yang Yajun, the chief scientist of the national tea industry technology system, said, "The fundamental solution for agriculture lies in mechanization."


Experts check tea buds picked by the robot. [Photo/WeChat account: zhejiangzhisheng]

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