From 1.11.2022 to 31.10.2023, in addition to the ACTIVATE project, a project entitled ACTIVATE_UA – Robotic Platform for Horticulture was implemented within the Scheme Support for Ukrainian Researchers under Bilateral Fund of ‘Applied Research’ Programme.

Number of the Action contract: FWD/I/105/CoBotAGV_UA/2022

Researcher: PhD Taras Hutsol, Professor PNU

Study description:

Nowadays, intensive horticultural crops are becoming more and more common due to their rapid fruiting and high yield rates. At the same time, the process of harvesting apples in intensive horticulture is the most time-consuming, and harvesting is mainly done by using a team of pickers. In the production process of orchard crops, this is an important final stage that requires the development of automated equipment and robotic platforms with a control system capable of carrying out harvesting offline.

With the unquestionable advantages of known approaches to the robotization of harvesting operations in gardens, the relationship between the rate (degree) of autonomy of robots and the number of functions they perform, for example, performing various agrotechnical work on a single automated platform, has not been sufficiently studied.

At the same time, development requires increasing the technical efficiency of solutions to achieve a high level of robot autonomy. This can be achieved by using an intelligent approach to complex processing of data from a set of computing devices.

The robotic platform will be designed to work in an industrial plantation. Therefore, the platform must have the necessary dimensions for efficient operation. In order to achieve this task, the design of a robotic platform is proposed, which will have 2 driving axes with wheels of the same dimensions and a parallelogram shape of the frame – body.  The installed encoder on the electric motors allows to calculate the peripheral speed of the wheels and, with the help of a control signal, to level the slippage and sliding of the wheels, which will lead to an increase in traction and grip indicators. The research will result in the creation of a robotic platform for apple fruit picking.

The designed platform structurally consists of a frame with stands, a drive unit, an electric transmission and electronic control system assemblies. The universal robotic platform will be driven by 2 ECMG600-033U geared motors mounted on the rear wheels. The geared motors will be powered by an internal combustion generator (fueled by ammonia-based fuel) and a LiFePO4 24V 105Ah power supply battery, allowing the platform to operate at full load for at least eight hours of continuous operation and ensuring battery regeneration in no more than two hours. The steering system will likely be based on a worm gear with a stepper motor and stepper motor power controller. A manipulator – a robotic arm for picking fruit – will be installed on the platform.

The robotic fruit picking device will have 3 degrees of freedom, the movement of the working head is possible in the horizontal and vertical planes. The robotized device will perform the following types of movements: movement of the vertical stand around the axis in the forward and backward directions, raising and lowering of the device’s boom, forward and backward movement of the movable part of the boom with a mounted fruit picker. The robot platform will be built on a modular basis. Solutions based on mathematical models