Engineering and Horticultural Aspects of Robotic Fruit Harvesting: Opportunities and Constraints

in HortTechnology
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  • 1 University of Florida, 225 Frazier-Rogers Hall, PO Box 110570, Gainesville, FL 32611-0570.
  • | 2 University of Florida, Agricultural and Biological Engineering Department, Gainesville.
  • | 3 University of Florida, Agricultural and Biological Engineering Department, Gainesville.

Automated solutions for fresh market fruit and vegetable harvesting have been studied by numerous researchers around the world during the past several decades. However, very few developments have been adopted and put into practice. The reasons for this lack of success are due to technical, economic, horticultural, and producer acceptance issues. The solutions to agricultural robotic mechanization problems are multidisciplinary in nature. Although there have been significant technology advances during the past decade, many scientific challenges remain. Viable solutions will require engineers and horticultural scientists who understand crop-specific biological systems and production practices, as well as the machinery, robotics, and controls issues associated with the automated production systems. Focused multidisciplinary teams are needed to address the full range of commodity-specific technical issues involved. Although there will be common technology components, such as machine vision, robotic manipula-tion, vehicle guidance, and so on, each application will be specialized, due to the unique nature of the biological system. Collaboration and technology sharing between commodity groups offers the benefit of leveraged research and development dollars and reduced overall development time for multiple commodities. This paper presents an overview of the major horticultural and engineering aspects of robotic mechanization for horticultural crop harvesting systems.

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