CROPS : high tech agricultural robots

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Abstract

In the EU-funded CROPS (Clever Robots for Crops) project high tech robots are developed for site-specific spraying and selective harvesting of fruit and fruit vegetables. The harvesting robots are being designed to harvest high-value crops such as greenhouse vegetables, fruits in orchards and grapes for premium wines. The CROPS robots are also developed for canopy spraying in orchards and for precision target spraying in grape vines to reduce the use of pesticides. A CROPS robot will be able to detect the fruit, sense its ripeness, then move to grasp and gently detach only the ripe fruit. For crop protection the canopy sprayer can detect contours of trees in an orchard and consequently only spraying on the trees and the precision target sprayer can detect diseases on leaves of vine grapes and only spray pesticides on the affected spots of the leaves. In the CROPS project also attention is paid to reliable detection and classification of objects and obstacles for autonomous navigation in a safe way in plantations and forests. For the several applications within the CROPS project platforms were developed. Sensing systems and appropriate vision algorithms for the platforms have been developed. For the software platform the Robot Operating System (ROS) is used. A 9 degrees of freedom (DOF) manipulator was designed and built and tested for sweet-pepper harvesting, apple harvesting and in close range spraying. The 9-DOF manipulator is modular, since the joint configuration can be adapted to the applications, e.g. 6 DOF for the close range spraying. For the different applications different end-effectors were designed and tested. The main results of the CROPS project will be the applications, the so-called demonstrators For sweet pepper a platform that can move in between the crop rows on the common greenhouse rail system which also serves as heating pipes was built and equipped with a sensing and lightning system, the manipulator and end-effectors. The complete system was tested and showed to growers in a lab situation. The apple harvesting platform is based on a current mechanical grape harvester. In discussion with growers so-called 'walls of fruit trees' have been designed which bring robots closer to the practice. This system, equipped with a sensing system the CROPS manipulator and a special end-effector, has been successfully tested in an orchard. A canopy-optimised sprayer has been designed as a trailed sprayer with a centrifugal blower. The system has been successfully tested in an orchard with a significant reduction of pesticide use. For close range target spraying the spraying robot in a greenhouse experiment with grape vines reduced the pesticide consumption with 84%.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 2014
EventAgEng 2014 - Zurich, Switzerland
Duration: 6 Jul 201410 Jul 2014

Conference

ConferenceAgEng 2014
CountrySwitzerland
CityZurich
Period6/07/1410/07/14

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Bontsema, J., Hemming, J., & Pekkeriet, E. J. (2014). CROPS : high tech agricultural robots. Paper presented at AgEng 2014, Zurich, Switzerland.