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Autonomous Orchard Vehicles for Specialty Crops Production

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

Citation:  2011 Louisville, Kentucky, August 7-10, 2011  1111071.(doi:10.13031/2013.37410)
Authors:   Bradley Hamner, Marcel Bergerman, Sanjiv Singh
Keywords:   Specialty crops, Efficiency improvement, Labor cost reduction, Crop intelligence, Agricultural automation, Autonomous orchard vehicle, Autonomous orchard platform

Comprehensive Automation for Specialty Crops (CASC) is a four-year project to develop crop intelligence and agricultural automation technologies for the apple and nursery tree industries. Supported by the USDA Specialty Crop Research Initiative, CASC aims at impacting industry where it matters most: increasing production efficiency and reducing labor costs. In this paper we present our most recent results with the Autonomous Prime Movers, a family of reconfigurable vehicles designed to augment or automate a variety of orchard operations. We discuss the modifications made on the first APM to make it robust to uneven terrain and variance in canopy types, along with field tests that totaled 159 km in autonomous orchard driving. We also present the design and initial deployment of two new autonomous orchard platforms.

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