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A Robotic Platform “Bin-Dog” for Bin Management in Orchard Environment

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

Citation:  2016 ASABE Annual International Meeting  162462088.(doi:10.13031/aim.20162462088)
Authors:   Yunxiang Ye, Long He, Qin Zhang
Keywords:   Bin management, four-wheel-independent-steering system, apple harvesting, navigation system

Abstract. Bin management is an important task in tree fruit harvesting at the Pacific Northwest (PNW) region of United States. Typically, bin management is performed by a human driver using either a tractor-mounted forklift. To simplify the traditional bin management process and improve its efficiency, this reported research created and validated a conceptual robotic “bin-dog” system which uses a “go-over-the-bin” feature and four-wheel-independent steering system to deliver an empty bin overpass a full bin laid in the aisle between two tree rows to the picking zone, then remove the full bin out the aisle when drive back the end of the field autonomously. In this study, a proof-of-concept “bin-dog” prototype was designed, fabricated and tested using GPS-based navigation system in commercial orchard environment for assessing its capability of achieving the proposed functionalities. Field tests conducted in a commercial apple orchard verified that the developed prototype could complete a simplified bin managing cycle through steering into an aisle, driving alone the aisle, loading a bin laid at 60 m into the aisle and leaving the aisle automatically.

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