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Alistair Scarfe

Doctor of Philosophy, (Industrial automation)
Study Completed: 2013
College of Sciences


Thesis Title
Development of an Autonomous Kiwifruit Harvester

Read article at Massey Research Online: MRO icon

Horticulture has yet to be mechanised for tasks like harvesting that are heavily reliant on expensive and inconsistent labour. At about one billion dollars per year, kiwifruit is New Zealand’s largest fresh fruit export earner. This makes an important contribution to the economy. Mr Scarfe developed autonomous robotic technology for harvesting kiwifruit, which could also be used to harvest other fruit crops. In order to achieve autonomous operation he devised systems for: 1) fruit identification and localisation, using stereo machine vision (to gain three-dimensional image information); 2) cooperative operation of four custom robotic arms, with hands; 3) a fruit handling and storage system; and 4) a robotic vehicle capable of navigating orchards and handling full and empty fruit storage bins. His system solves several problems experienced by other robotic harvest systems (including slow harvesting cycles, low percentage of crop harvested, no fruit handling or storage, and large build costs).

Dr Huub Bakker
Professor Donald Bailey