Energid Technologies Corp. has received some help from the USDA in its efforts to make commercial automated citrus harvesting a reality.


Energid, a robotics maker based in Cambridge, Mass., is developing a citrus harvester that uses many robotic mechanisms to remove fruit, providing an alternative to other methods of harvesting, such as shaking and hand-picking, according to a news release.


“Imagine a flexible picking mechanism that shoots out to remove an orange like a frog’s tongue catching a fly,” Chu-Yin Chang, principal engineer at Energid, said in the release. “Now line up tens or even hundreds of these. That is the system we are developing.”


Using the two-year funding, the company plans to work on the project in California, Florida, Massachusetts and Texas, with field trials to be conducted in southwest Florida.