Development of an Automated System for the Selective Harvesting of Radicchio
Michele Gabrio Antonelli*,†, Pierluigi Beomonte Zobel*, Francesco Durante*, and Terenziano Raparelli**
*Department of Industrial and Information Engineering and Economics, University of L’Aquila
Via G. Gronchi, 18 67100 L’Aquila, Italy
**Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, Politecnico, Torino, Italy
In recent years, robotics and automation technology have spread significantly throughout the agricultural harvesting sector. The increased productivity and the high cost of labour are some of the main reasons for this phenomenon. However, the harvesting of some crops is still carried out manually. One such crop is radicchio, which ripens at various times, thus requiring selective harvesting. This paper presents the development of an innovative modular system which aims at automating the harvesting of radicchio. Each module adopts a mechanical sensor to recognize the ripening status of the plant, on the basis of the hardness/compliance of its core. The module contains a cutting system, made of pneumatically actuated blades, and a harvesting system, made of two electrically powered tape conveyors. The module is intended to be used for a single row of radicchio cultivations using a tractor to move it. In laboratory tests the module prototype was manually moved. For this reason, the prototype is equipped with a control panel for monitoring and commanding. The conceived design, technical specifications and the prototype of the module are presented in detail. In addition, performances and functional tests are discussed. Finally, the functionality of the whole system is validated.
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