A problem in loose housing systems for laying hens is the laying of eggs on the floor; these eggs need manual collection. This job is heavy and time-consuming and automated collection is desired. For collection using a robot, a collection path is required. A novel path planning algorithm is introduced for non-uniform repetitive area coverage (NURAC) paths and evaluated based on information about floor egg distribution probability. Firstly, a spatial map was developed that describes the potential for floor eggs at each location in a poultry house. Next, paths for floor egg collection are planned with a dynamic programming approach that covers the house floor area and frequently revisits locations with a high potential on floor eggs. These paths are compared with the paths used for floor egg collection by a farmer and evaluated with help of a simulated set of floor eggs. With respect to the average time eggs are present on the floor, paths planned for a robot are compared to two collection rounds of a farmer. With respect to the structure of the path and the number of visits to locations with a high potential, the robot paths outperform the farmer. Although optimality of the path is not guaranteed, the presented results are promising for the use of a robot to collect floor eggs, and will result in a reduction of the demand for manual labour. Extending the floor egg model with feedback information could further improve the results.
|Publication status||Published - 2014|
- laying hens
- prelaying behavior