AI technology of Google helps a better cucumber farm

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Artificial intelligence has been used in a wide range of fields including medical, stock trading, robot control, law, remote sensing, scientific discovery and toys. But the use of AI could be more than our imaginations.

Makoto Koike used AI technology to save his parents a lot of work.  About one year ago, a former embedded systems designer from the Japanese automobile industry started helping out at his parents’ cucumber farm and was surprised by the amount of work it takes to sort cucumbers by size, shape, color and other attributes.

The system uses a camera-equipped Raspberry to snap photos of the veggies and send the shots to a small Tensor Flow neural network, where they’re identified as cucumbers. After that, it sends images to a larger network on a Linux server to classify the cucumbers by attributes like color, shape and size. An Arduino Micro uses that info to control the actual sorting, while a Windows PC trains the neural network with images.

Koike said, it’s not a perfect system, at least right now. The sorting work is not an easy task to learn. You have to look at not only the size and thickness, but also the color, texture, small scratches, whether or not they are crooked and whether they have prickles. It takes months to learn the system and you can’t just hire part-time workers during the busiest period. I myself only recently learned to sort cucumbers well,”

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