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ISHS Acta Horticulturae 1130: XXIX International Horticultural Congress on Horticulture: Sustaining Lives, Livelihoods and Landscapes (IHC2014): International Symposia on the Physiology of Perennial Fruit Crops and Production Systems and Mechanisation, Precision Horticulture and Robotics

Field test of different end-effectors for robotic harvesting of sweet-pepper

Authors:   J. Hemming, B.A.J. van Tuijl, W. Gauchel, E. Wais
Keywords:   greenhouse, adaptive jaws, Fin Ray effect, lip-type, grasping, gripper
DOI:   10.17660/ActaHortic.2016.1130.85
This paper focusses on field experiments with two different types of end-effectors for robotic harvesting of sweet-pepper fruits. One of the major issues is to reach, grasp and detach the fruit efficiently, without damaging it, while avoiding obstacles in the environment. End-effectors for harvesting fruit must be able to adapt to different fruit sizes and geometries. Two types of end-effectors were designed and realized. The first one had four fingers which utilized the “Fin Ray” effect to grip the fruit. A scissor-like cut mechanism on top of the fingers was used to cut through the fruit peduncle. The second, a lip-type end-effector first stabilized the fruit using a suction cup after which two rings enclosed and cut the peduncle with a circular blade integrated in the upper lip. Both end-effectors had integrated miniature cameras with a LED illumination system: one Time of Flight camera and the other a colour camera. To study the performance of the end-effectors a number of harvesting experiments were performed in commercial sweet-pepper greenhouses. Special attention was paid to the following aspects: positioning at the target fruit, separation of the fruit from the plant, fruit damage, leaf damage and plant stem damage. Both end-effector designs had their strengths and weaknesses. The Fin ray type end-effector harvested a maximum of 80% of the fruits on the plant, the lip-type end-effector a maximum of 76% of the fruits. In none of the experiments more than 64% of the fruit could be harvested without fruit damage.

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