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Robotic Harvesting of Kiwifruit

Authors: Seabright M, Jones M H, Williams H, Nejati M, Barnett J, Duke M, Scarfe A, MacDonald B

Harvesting kiwifruit, New Zealand's largest horticultural export, is a labour intensive task. An automated harvesting system is presented that utilises a robotic arm controlled by a machine vision system.

Being electrically actuated, the arm provides highly accurate spacial positioning, necessary for carrying out the motions involved with picking. A gripper, mounted to the end of the arm, mimics the action of a human harvesters hand when detaching fruit.

We find that a combination of a snap rotation of the fruit whilst pulling the fruit away from its stem is an effective means of fruit detachment. This action minimises both the amount of force applied to the fruit and the time to detach.

Photo: Kiwi harvester (credits: Seabright M, Jones M H, Williams H, Nejati M, Barnett J, Duke M, Scarfe A, MacDonald B)

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