SPONSOR AGENCY: WTFRC
Zhang*, Q.; Lewis, K.M.; He, L.
Harvest is the most labor-intensive operation in tree fruit orchards, requiring heavy use of seasonal labor. The tree fruit industry needs technological innovations to assist growers in maintaining a competitive position in the global marketplace. Preliminary conceptual development field trial results indicated that the productivity of fruit picking could be improved by 50% if the collection bins within harvesting sites could be better managed. This research aims to develop an intelligent bin-management system supported by a robotic self-propelled fruit bin carrier. If successfully developed, such a technology could help to solve a crucial problem for the long-term sustainability of both the domestic tree fruit industry and other industries facing similar challenges. The primary goals of this research are to create core technologies for robot-human and robot-environment interfaces needed in building an intelligent bin-management system implementable in the natural environment of tree fruit orchards. The overall objective is to develop a system capable of placing and collecting bins in a fruit tree orchard, which will reduce labor requirements and maximize worker productivity. The objective will be achieved by developing algorithms, integrating them into a self-propelled robotic bin carrier, and then validating the system in a working orchard environment. Involvement of trans-disciplinary expertise from the collaborative WSU and OSU project team, availability of well-equipped laboratories, and access to both research and commercial orchards all facilitate the successful completion of these activities.
If you would like more information about this topic or other developments in agriculture, contact Dr. Qin Zhang