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Autonomous robotic system for picking up floor eggs in poultry houses

Published by the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers, St. Joseph, Michigan

Citation:  2017 ASABE Annual International Meeting  1700397.(doi:10.13031/aim.201700397)
Authors:   Benjamin P Joffe, Colin T Usher
Keywords:   Agricultural robot, egg picking, poultry, machine learning, TensorFlow, ROS


Current conveyor-type systems in broiler-breeder and cage-free layer houses automate transporting of the eggs from the nests to the sorting area. However, the problem of picking floor eggs remains mostly unsolved and requires a farm-hand to walk the house daily, leading to increased labor costs and greater risk of cross-contamination between the facilities. We have developed a robotic system for autonomous egg picking based on a ground rover. The system consists of two parts: the mobile robotic platform with Kinect v2 sensor and deep learning algorithms to detect the eggs on the floor and drive up to them, and a robotic arm combined with visual servoing algorithms to pick up the eggs and place them in a basket. Our approach is designed to be a cost-effective solution that is able to operate in commercial breeder/layer houses and robustly detect eggs in various lighting and environmental conditions. Robust testing of our egg picking algorithms yielded a success rate of 91.6% and we anticipate that the same approach can be used to achieve near-perfect success rate in picking non-damaged eggs.

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