Cucumber harvesting robot

Today, labour is the largest cost factor of a modern greenhouse holding. More than 30% of the total production costs are spent on wages for the grower and his employees. Obviously, to cope with saturating market demands and increasing competition, the grower is looking for ways to improve the over-all efficiency of the production process. Manual labour in a greenhouse is demanding, especially under poor climatic conditions.

Because the robots reported in literature were not suited for the high productivity growing systems used in Dutch horticultural practice, in 1996, we began research on the development of an autonomous cucumber harvesting robot supported by the Dutch Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Fisheries. The task of designing robots for agricultural applications raises issues not encountered in other industries. The robot has to operate in a highly unstructured environment in which no two scenes are the same. Both crop and fruit are prone to mechanical damage and should be handled with care. The robot has to operate under adverse climatic conditions, such as high relative humidity and temperature as well as changing light conditions. Finally, to be cost effective, the robot needs to meet high performance characteristics in terms of speed and success rate of the picking operation.

This research project was finished in 2002.


Key publications

  • Henten, E.J. van., Hemming, J., Tuijl, B.A.J.van., Kornet, J.G. and Bontsema, J., (2003): Collision-free Motion Planning for a Cucumber Picking Robot. Biosystems Engineering, 86(2): 135-144.
  • Henten  E.J. van, Tuijl, B.A.J.van, Hemming, J., Kornet, J.G. and Bontsema, J., Os, E.A. van, (2003). Field Test of an Autonomous Cucumber Picking Robot. Biosystems Engineering, 86(3): 305-313.
  • Henten, E.J. van; Schenk, E.J.J.; Willigenburg, L.G. van; Meuleman, J.; Barreiro, P. (2010): Collision-free inverse kinematics of the redundant seven link manipulator used in a cucumber harvesting robot. Biosystems Engineering 106 (2). - p. 112 - 124.
  • Henten, E.J. van; Slot, D.A. van 't; Hol, C.W.J.; Willigenburg, L.G. van (2009): Optimal manipulator design for a cucumber harvesting robot. Computers and Electronics in Agriculture 65 (2). - p. 247 - 257.