This workpackage aims to build a demonstrator for sweet pepper production. The focus of the research is on robotic harvesting of sweet pepper fruit.
Research will also emphasize development of generic concepts that can be used to perform other functions such as
planting, attaching plant to supporting wires, pruning, leaf picking, monitoring yield and quality and local crop protection.
April 2012: first prototype of a manipulator tested for the first time in a sweet-pepper crop
Current progress of workpackage (december 2011):
Methodological design approach for a sweet-pepper robot
A methodological design approach was followed to generate a list of requirements for a robotic system, focused on harvesting of sweet pepper in protected cultivation systems. Two deliverables are produced and submitted in 2011 about this subject. The first deliverable 5.1 describes the design objectives and requirements for a sweet pepper harvesting robot. The information which is assembled here is based on discussions and interviews held with a number of Dutch sweet pepper growers and the knowledge base of Wageningen University & Research Centre, complemented with available literature and reports.
For the second deliverable a number of design sessions with experts (growers, trained workers and project partners) were organized to find and to define functions to fulfil the earlier defined requirements. These sessions yielded insight on how humans harvest sweet peppers. From which came the important notion that to solve occlusion and finding the abscission zone, where the sweet pepper should be cut, are two important aspects which are difficult to solve but need to be solved in order to successfully harvest a fruit. Functions are found and answer to “what?” questions, the working principles are grouped and answer to “how?” phrases. The functions were translated to so called morphological charts. A morphological chart consists of a list of functions, in the left column and in the rows behind each function a working principle is shown.
Economic feasibility sweet pepper harvesting robot
In co-operation pf WP13 the economic feasibility for sweet pepper harvesting was calculated. A comparison was made between manual harvesting and fully robotized harvesting, with the return on investment or investment space as a result. With a cycle time of 6 seconds for each harvested product, the sweet pepper robot will be profitable when the price of one robot will be below € 195.000 at an economic and technical life cycle of 5 years. One robot can cover 1.4 Ha of a modern Dutch sweet pepper Greenhouse.
Testing of modules
A number of sensors (2d and 3d camera systems) and actuators (first designs of grippers and cutting mechanisms) were tested in the laboratory but also in a commercial greenhouse environment in order to detect, to determine maturity, to localize and to detach sweet-pepper fruits from the plant.
Main partners involved in workpackage 5
- Jentjens Machinetechniek b.v.
- Several sweet-pepper growers
Lead partner of this workpackes is Wageningen UR.