"Key Challenges in Agricultural Robotics with Examples of Ground Vehicle Localization in Orchards and Task-Specific Manipulator Design for Fruit Harvesting"

EBU 1 - Qualcomm Conference Room 

Amir Degani - Technion (Israel Institute of Technology) 


Seminar Abstract

Dr Amir Degani is an Associate Professor at the Technion - Israel Institute of Technology. Dr Degani is the Director of the Civil, Environmental, and Agricultural Robotics (CEAR) Laboratory researching robotic  legged locomotion and autonomous systems in civil and agriculture applications. His research program includes mechanism analysis, synthesis, control and motion planning and design with emphasis on minimalistic concepts and the study of nonlinear dynamic hybrid systems.

His talk will present the need for robotics in agriculture and focus on examples of solutions for two different problems. The first is the localization of an autonomous ground vehicle in a homogenous orchard environment. The typical localization approaches are not adjusted to the characteristics of the orchard environment, especially the homogeneous scenery. To alleviate these difficulties, Dr Degani and his colleagues use top-view images of the orchard acquired in real-time. The top-view observation of the orchard provides a unique signature of every tree formed by the shape of its canopy. This practically changes the homogeneity premise in orchards and paves the way for addressing the “kidnapped robot problem”.

The second part of the talk will focus on efforts to define and perform task-based optimization for an apple-harvesting robot. Since there is a large variation between trees, instead of performing this laborious optimization on many trees, Dr Degani and his colleagues look for a “lower dimensional” characterization of the trees. Moreover, the shape of the tree (i.e., the environment) has a major influence on the robot’s simplicity. Therefore, Dr Degani and his colleagues strive to find the best training system for a tree to help simplify the robot’s design.