E11: Peach Picking Automation

Ai-Ping Hu, Ph.D., of the Intelligent Sustainable Technologies Division joins podcast host Matthew Habib to discuss a robot developed to assist with the spring peach tree “thinning” process. This process is normally labor-intensive. Therefore, the robot promises to significantly help the peach industry. Dr. Hu shares details on the development of the robot as well as its impact on the peach growing industry.

Talking Points

  • One out of 7 Georgians work in the agriculture industry.
  • Specialty crops like fruits and nuts are still highly manual due to the unstructured layout of tree branches
  • Peach thinning process removes up to 50% of small peachlets to allow the remainder to grow larger. It is a critical part of the peach growing process.
  • While most of the robotic hardware was available commercially, the end effecter on the robotic arm was designed specifically for picking peachlets, and all software to autonomously drive the robot and pick the peachlets was written by the project team.
  • The project team includes GTRI researchers, Georgia Tech faculty and students, and UGA-Griffin agriculture faculty.
  • Future plans for this project include automation of the pruning process.