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SoftGrippers for Harvesting Robots in Agriculture: Benefits and Applications

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SoftGrippers are an innovative technology that is transforming the way harvesting robots are used in agriculture. These devices are designed to mimic the dexterity and flexibility of the human hand, making them ideal for tasks that require delicate handling, such as harvesting fruits and vegetables. In recent years, the use of SoftGrippers in agricultural automation has been on the rise, as farmers and growers seek to improve the efficiency and accuracy of their harvesting operations.

However, while the benefits of using SoftGrippers in agriculture are clear, there are also some challenges associated with the adoption of robotic technologies in this field. For example, the high initial costs of robotic equipment can be a barrier to entry for some farmers, while the need for specialized training and maintenance can also pose challenges. Despite these obstacles, the potential benefits of SoftGrippers and other robotic technologies in agriculture are significant, and are likely to continue driving innovation in this field in the years to come.

SoftGrippers and Agricultural Automation

SoftGrippers are robotic end-effectors that are designed to mimic the human hand, providing a gentle yet firm grip on delicate objects. They are typically made from soft and flexible materials, such as silicone or rubber, and are often used in combination with robotic arms to handle fruits, vegetables, and other delicate produce.

In this section, we will provide a detailed overview of SoftGripper technology, including how it works and how it compares to traditional harvesting equipment. We will also explore the advantages and disadvantages of using SoftGrippers in agriculture.

Some of the advantages of SoftGrippers in agricultural automation include improved accuracy, increased speed, and reduced labor costs. SoftGrippers are also more versatile than traditional harvesting equipment, as they can be easily reused to handle different types of produce. However, SoftGrippers are not the only factor – you will need other equipment like vision systems that can be expensive.

Examples of SoftGrippers in Agriculture

SoftGrippers have become increasingly popular in agriculture due to their ability to provide a gentle touch when handling delicate produce, such as strawberries. Progressive companies such as Mifood, Abberit, l5automation, and MTC have taken on the challenge of implementing SoftGrippers specifically for strawberry picking. These companies recognize the need for automation in agriculture and are working to address the challenges of handling sensitive produce.

The reason for this focus on strawberries is because they are extremely delicate and sensitive. It is common to find dark spots on strawberries that have been damaged during handling, but not directly visible, after being stored in a refrigerator for a few days. However, with SoftGrippers, this is not the case. SoftGrippers use a suction cup as a cushion that the fingers press the strawberry against, ensuring there are no visible picking spots.

In addition to strawberry picking, SoftGrippers are being used in a variety of other agricultural applications. For example, in potato handling: single or bagged, SoftGrippers are being used to pick up and transport fruits and vegetables without damaging them. In meat handling, SoftGrippers are being used to grasp and move meat products with a gentle touch, reducing the risk of damage or contamination. In lettuce handling, SoftGrippers are being used to pick and package lettuce without damaging the leaves.

The benefits of SoftGrippers in agriculture are clear. They provide a gentle touch when handling delicate produce, reducing damage and waste. They also reduce the need for manual labor, which can be time-consuming and physically demanding. SoftGrippers can work around the clock, increasing productivity and efficiency.

robotic setup of Mifood, teaching the harvesting robot farming strawberries

However, there are also challenges associated with using SoftGrippers in agriculture. One challenge is the need for customization. Each type of produce or product may require a different type of SoftGripper to handle it effectively. Another challenge is the cost of implementing SoftGrippers. While they may reduce the need for manual labor in the long run, the initial investment in SoftGrippers can be significant.

Despite these challenges, SoftGrippers are proving to be a valuable addition to the agricultural industry. With continued cooperation with partners in the industry for development and innovation, SoftGrippers have the potential to transform the way we handle delicate produce and other agricultural products.

Robots in Farming: Benefits and Challenges

Robotic automation in farming has many potential benefits, including increased efficiency, reduced labor costs, and improved accuracy and precision. In addition, robots can operate around the clock without the need for rest, leading to higher productivity and faster crop processing times.

However, there are also several challenges associated with using robots in agriculture. One of the main challenges is the cost of the technology, which can be a barrier to adoption for some farmers. In addition, the complex and varied nature of agricultural tasks, as well as the often unpredictable and unstructured environment in which they take place, can make it difficult to design and program robots that are able to perform these tasks as effectively as human workers.

Furthermore, robots are not yet able to replace human workers entirely, as there are still many tasks that require a high level of dexterity, judgement, and decision-making that can only be performed by humans. There is also the challenge of maintaining and repairing robots, which requires specialized knowledge and skills that may not be readily available to farmers.

Despite these challenges, the use of robots in farming is expected to increase in the coming years as the technology becomes more advanced and affordable. By working together with farmers and other stakeholders in the agriculture industry, developers and engineers can continue to improve the capabilities of robots and address the challenges associated with their use.

Potatobag in GorillaFinger robot clamps

Further Questions

That’s of course not all and we will be elaborating on this topic in future. Right now, you might be facing some questions. Let us elaborate on some of them:

Will robots replace farmers?

Robots have the potential to automate many of the manual tasks currently performed by farmers, such as planting, harvesting, and irrigation. However, it is unlikely that robots will completely replace farmers, as many aspects of farming require human decision-making and expertise.

Are robots the future of farming?

Robots are likely to play an increasingly important role in the future of farming, as they can increase efficiency and reduce labor costs. However, it is important to note that robots are not a complete solution, and must be integrated with other technologies and management practices.

How robots are changing the farming industry?

Robots are changing the farming industry by automating manual tasks, collecting and analyzing data to optimize crop management, and improving precision and efficiency.

What are the main challenge of using robots on farms?

The main challenge of using robots on farms is developing robots that are capable of performing the wide range of tasks required in agriculture, including working in challenging environments and dealing with unpredictable crops and weather.

Why are farmers not adopting new technology?

Farmers may not adopt new technology due to lack of awareness, concerns about costs and return on investment, and the complexity of implementation.


In conclusion, SoftGrippers represent a promising technology for improving the automation of agricultural processes. Their soft, flexible design allows for gentle handling of delicate produce like strawberries, while also reducing the need for expensive and often damaging traditional harvesting equipment. The case studies we have presented demonstrate the potential for SoftGrippers to be used in a range of agricultural applications, from bagged produce handling to meats, vegetables, and bakery goods handling. While there are challenges associated with the adoption of robotic automation in farming, the benefits of increased efficiency, reduced labor costs, and improved product quality are undeniable. With continued innovation and investment, it is likely that SoftGrippers and other robotic technologies will play an increasingly important role in the future of agriculture.


Contact Us for More Information

We hope that this article has been informative and helpful in understanding the use of SoftGrippers in agriculture. If you have any further questions or would like to discuss the details of your specific project, please don’t hesitate to contact us.

Our team of experts is always available to answer any questions you may have and to provide guidance on the best SoftGripper technology for your application. Whether you are interested in bagged produce handling, protein handling, lettuce handling, bakery goods handling, or raw dough handling, we can help you find the right SoftGripper for your needs.

In addition to our expertise in SoftGripper technology, we also have extensive knowledge and experience in agricultural automation and robotics. We can help you explore the benefits and challenges of using robots in farming and find the best solutions for your unique needs.

To learn more or to discuss your project with us, please feel free to reach out via email, phone, or through our website. We look forward to hearing from you and helping you find the best solutions for your agricultural automation needs.


We are happy to get in touch with you! Let’s have a quick talk and find out how to automate your application. Our engineers will validate your application and provide you with test material in form of videos pictures and whitepapers:

About the Author

Adrian Ernst, Application Engineer at SoftGripping

Adrian Ernst

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