PROJECT TITLE :
Robot Farmers: Autonomous Orchard Vehicles Help Tree Fruit Production
This article presents perception and navigation systems for a family of autonomous orchard vehicles. The systems are customized to enable safe and reliable driving in fashionable planting environments. The perception system is predicated on a world positioning system (GPS)-free sensor suite composed of a twodimensional (a pair of-D) laser scanner, wheel and steering encoders, and algorithms that process the sensor information and output the vehicle's location within the orchard and steering commands for row following and turning. Localization relies on vary data to premapped landmarks, currently one at the beginning and one at the tip of every tree row. The navigation system takes as inputs the vehicle's current location and guidance commands, plans trajectories for row following and turning, and drives the motors to realize fully autonomous block coverage. The navigation system also includes an obstacle detection subsystem that stops the vehicle from colliding with people, trees, and bins. To date, the vehicles sporting the perception and navigation infrastructure have traversed over 350 km in analysis and industrial orchards and nurseries in several U.S. states. Time trials showed that the autonomous orchard vehicles enable efficiency gains of up to fifty eightp.c for fruit production tasks conducted on the prime part of trees compared with the identical task performed on ladders. Anecdotal evidence collected from growers and staff indicates that replacing ladders with autonomous vehicles will build orchard work safer and a lot of comfortable.
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