Transforming the Future of Automated Blueberry Picking


Brienne Engel

Naturipe Farms has awarded $10,000 to each of the four semi-finalists of a challenge to identify innovative ways to improve automated blueberry harvesting. yet2 managed the challenge.

Naturipe’s goal in hosting the Blue Challenge was to develop and enhance blueberry harvesting with innovative technologies in order to improve efficiencies and ultimately deliver more delicious blueberries for fresh consumption.

Naturipe received over 60 submissions and selected the four semi-finalists:

  • Carnegie Mellon University, National Robotics Engineering Center
  • United States Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service, Appalachian Fruit Research Station
  • Vision Robotics Corporation
  • Washington State University, Center for Precision and Automated Agricultural Systems

While no single team identified a solution that sufficiently addresses every specification, Naturipe anticipates that teams will be able to work together in a continued effort to achieve the goal to find new ways to ensure consumers get more premium blueberries, reduce food waste, and rethink operations from “field to fork.”

Currently, blueberries destined for sale as fresh fruit must be picked by hand, which is a labor-intensive and slow process. The Blue Challenge explored new emerging technologies that will support and improve the effectiveness and efficiency of field staff.

To learn more about the Blue Challenge or to find out how your organization can benefit from offering your own challenge, please contact Brienne Engel, yet2, +1-617-244-4149.

Featured Technology Deal:
Control over thermal isotropy

Enhanced thermal conductivity and control over thermal isotropy for circuit boards, films, and other polymeric materials used in electronic components.

This technology greatly improves thermal conductivity in circuit boards, films, and electronic components by controlling the direction of heat transfer (isotropy).

Polymers, epoxies, and other thermoset plastics inherently have good thermal transfer along the plane of polymer branching (the X and Y directions), but not along the Z axis.

Kapton, for example, is 10x more thermally conductive along the plane of the polymer than it is at 90 degrees to that plane.

Hexagonal boron nitride (hBN) is an excellent heat conductor, and is added to the polymeric components of electronics to improve heat transfer, but it also conducts heat primarily along the plane of its metal crystals, which align with the polymer.

The DuPont technology interleaves hBN with a ferromagnetic material. Once the interleaved hBN is dispersed into the liquid polymer and during the curing process, a small magnetic field aligns the hBN in the desired direction for heat transfer most usually at 90 degrees to the plane of the polymer thus controlling the isotropy of the polymer.

Only half the hBN loading in the polymer is necessary to attain the same thermal conductivity as with non-aligned hBN. The process is simple and does not require hazardous solvents.

For more information on this technology, contact Tim Bernstein at yet2’s Newton, MA office.