MSc thesis subject: Study the potential use of unmanned aerial vehicles for estimating fruit maturity: A malus pumila case study

Unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) shipped with on-board sensors have become an effective remote sensing (RS) tool in agriculture. They have been used mainly for image surveying and there are still many helpful aerial RS application to develop. Working with UAV it’s an added valuable point for any professional who wishes to succeed in this competitive market. Herein, you will have the opportunity to work in a novel and ambitious project with UAV applied to the emerging field of Precision agriculture (PA).

Estimating when it’s the appropriate time for harvesting, it’s one the most critical decisions for a farmer. A wrong estimation can lead to increased production  losses. Currently, this task is done on the site mostly through visual contact with the crop: Looking to the fruits colour, smell, taste, and firmness. Although, this might work for domestic producer, it’s hard to accomplish for producers with many acres. A hypothesis for improving this agricultural management practice is to estimate the right time for harvesting by measuring the gases released by the fruits. So, the aim of this topic is to design an aerial-based approach for measuring the ethylene over a crop and analyse it feasibility for fruit maturity estimation.


The aim of this project is to study the potential of UAV for fruit maturity estimation. This will be achieved within the main steps: 1) Review of the state-of-the arte in gas sensors (electronic noses) and ripe estimation practices; 2) Design a sensor system based in open-source software and low-cost electronic boards; and 3) Field test in an apple plot with the designed system.


  • Cristescu SM, Mandon J, Arslanov D, De Pessemier J, Hermans C, Harren FJ. 2013 Current methods for detecting ethylene in plants. Ann. Bot. 111, 347–360.
  • Timothy M. Swager, et al. Selective Detection of Ethylene Gas Using Carbon Nanotube-based Devices: Utility in Determination of Fruit Ripeness, Angewandte Chemie International Edition, 2012
  • Liuzheng Ma et al., A Low Cost Compact Measurement System Constructed Using a Smart Electrochemical Sensor for the Real-Time Discrimination of Fruit Ripening. Sensors 16(4): 501 (2016)


  • UAV enthusiast
  • Willing for learning novel software and hardware tools
  • Excited to work in robotics

Theme(s): Sensing & measuring