Harvesting Robot
Artist Impression
Sweet-pepper crop
in the greenhouse

On July 4th the SWEEPER consortium gave the first live demonstration of its sweet pepper harvesting robot. The international press, growers and representatives from the high-tech horticulture sector were present. With over 40 attendances, the event was a great success. This demonstration was held at the commercial greenhouse "De Tuindershoek" in IJsselmuiden, one of the partners in this international research project.

 The SWEEPER robot is the first sweet pepper harvesting robot in the world demonstrated in a commercial greenhouse. It is designed to operate in a single stem row cropping system, with a crop having non-clustered fruits and little leaf occlusion. Tests were performed in a commercial greenhouse having a 2-row V-type cropping system. Preliminary test results showed that by using a commercial available crop modified to mimic the required conditions, the robot harvests ripe fruits in 24 seconds with a success rate of 62%. Based upon these results, the Sweeper consortium expects that a commercial sweet pepper harvesting robot will be available within 4-5 years. Further research is needed to make the robot work even faster and reach a higher harvest success rate. Next, a commercial viable single-stem row cropping must be developed and the breeding companies must develop crop cultivars that are more suitable for robotic harvesting. The obtained results can also be used for robotic harvesting of other crops.
For those that could not attend this event, the next Sweeper demonstration will be held on September 12th, at the Research Station for Vegetable Production at St. Katelijne Waver in Belgium. More information (a.o. high-resolution photos and a video) is available here, which may be used publically by using the reference: “Source: www.sweeper-robot.eu”.

SWEEPER is a partnership between Wageningen University & Research (co-ordination), pepper grower De Tuindershoek BV, both in the Netherlands, Umea University in Sweden, Ben-Gurion University in Israel and the Research Station for Vegetable Cultivation and Bogaerts Greenhouse Logistics from Belgium. This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 644313.

Material for media and press

 

 

 

 

 

 

  

 

Op 4 juli 2018 gaf het SWEEPER-consortium de eerste live demonstratie van haar paprika-oogstrobot. De internationale pers, telers en vertegenwoordigers uit de hightech tuinbouwsector waren aanwezig. Met meer dan 40 aanwezigheden was het evenement een groot succes. De demonstratie vond plaats in de commerciële kas van "De Tuindershoek" in IJsselmuiden, een van de partners in dit internationale onderzoeksproject.

De SWEEPER-robot is de eerste robot voor het oogsten van paprika's die in de wereld wordt gedemonstreerd in een commerciële kas. De robot is ontworpen om te werken in een teeltsysteem met enkele plantstengels op een rij, en een gewas zonder clusters en met weinig bladbedekking voor de vruchten. Proeven werden uitgevoerd in een commerciële kas met een V-type, dubbelrij teeltsysteem. Voorlopige resultaten van testen met een commercieel beschikbaar en aan de vereiste omstandigheden aangepast gewas, laten zien dat de robot 62% van alle rijpe vruchten oogst in 24 seconden. Op basis van deze resultaten verwacht het Sweeper-consortium dat een commerciële paprika-oogstrobot binnen 4-5 jaar beschikbaar zal zijn. Verder onderzoek is nodig om de robot nog sneller te laten werken en een hoger slagingspercentage te behalen. Vervolgens moet een commerciële levensvatbaar enkel-stengelrij teeltsysteem worden ontwikkeld en moeten de veredelingsbedrijven cultivars ontwikkelen die meer geschikt zijn voor gerobotiseerde oogst. De verkregen resultaten kunnen ook worden gebruikt voor het gerobotiseerd oogsten van andere gewassen. Een volgende Sweeper-demonstratie wordt gehouden op 12 september 2018 op het Proefstation voor de Groenteteelt in St. Katelijne Waver in België.

SWEEPER is een partnerschap tussen Wageningen University & Research, paprikateler De Tuindershoek BV, de Umea Universiteit in Zweden, de Ben-Gurion Universiteit in Israël en het Proefstation voor de Groenteteelt en Bogaerts Greenhouse Logistics uit België. Het onderzoek is financieel ondersteund door het Horizon 2020-programma van de Europese Unie en in Nederland mede door de Topsector Tuinbouw en Uitgangsmaterialen.

Foto's, video, presentatie handouts

 

 

 

 

 

Collecting image data to improve algorithms

 

In the last week of March 2017 the Sweeper team has performed tests with advanced colour and 3d cameras on their harvesting robot in the greenhouse of partner Research Station for Vegetable Production at Sint Katelijne-Waver in Belgium. The data of the tests will be used for improving the vision algorithms for detecting ripe fruits and approach path of the robot.

Data was gathered which will be used to improve the maturity detection and increase the robustness of it. Furthermore, a field test has been performed to improve reachability. This means how the robot should approach the fruit to reach it without harming the crop. Improvements will be implemented and in summer new harversting field tests are scheduled to be carried out at De Tuindershoek.

 Robot in greenhouse PSKW

 

Visual servo control experiments

 

Earlier this year visual servo control experiments were carrried out on artificial sweet pepper plantsin the laboratories of the University of Umeå in Sweden to investigate the effect of choosing different approaching directions on harvesting times. The value of ideal information regarding the best approach direction with least occlusion from obstacles was evaluated by comparing it to a method attempting several directions until successful harvesting is performed. The results of the experiments will be presented at the TAROS 2017 conference in July.

In this video the robot is trying different approaching directions using visual servo control to locate and move towards the fruits as soon as they are not blocked by leaves.

 

 sweeper apoproach screenshot

 

Wednesday, July 4th 2018

On Wednesday, July 4th from 15:00 to 18:00, growers, suppliers and the press can see the first live demonstration of the SWEEPER pepper harvesting robot. This demonstration will be given at the commercial greenhouse "De Tuindershoek" in IJsselmuiden, one of the partners in this international research project. The BU Greenhouse Horticulture of Wageningen University & Research, coordinates the project in which partners from Sweden, Israel and Belgium also participate.

The SWEEPER robot is the first sweet pepper harvesting robot in the world to be demonstrated in a commercial greenhouse. SWEEPER has been concentrating on harvesting peppers for the past three years, with 1.3 million tonnes being produced annually in Europe. The consortium expects that the outcome of their research will lead to a market introduction of the robot within a few years. The results confirm the leading role of Europe in the field of high-tech agro-robotics research and strengthens the competitiveness of the European greenhouse horticulture sector.

Registration is important and mandatory for participation in the demo because a maximum of 50 people can participate. You can register by sending an e-mail to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., participation is free.

Final program

Date: July 4th, 2018      
Time: 15.00 – 18.00h

Location: Kwekerij “De Tuindershoek” (Tuindersweg 32, 8271 PK IJsselmuiden)

Plan your route with Google maps

Program:

15.00 Reception with coffee in the main hall

15:15 Introduction Sweeper (Jos Balendonck)

15:25 Sweeper Movie

15:30 Short presentations of all members Sweeper Consortium
       (Jochen Hemming, Polina Kurtser, Ola Ringdahl, Liesbet van Herck)

16:00 Live demonstration in the Greenhouse
16:00 Group 1 (invited Press only)  
16:30 Group 2  
16:45 Group 3

16:00 – 18:00 Sweeper Info Market at the main hall

17:00 Plenary intermezzo and discussion in the main hall

17:15 Food and drinks

18:00 Closure

 SWEEPER is a partnership between Wageningen University & Research, pepper grower De Tuindershoek BV, Umea University in Sweden, Ben-Gurion University in Israel and the Research Station for Vegetable Cultivation and Bogaerts Greenhouse Logistics from Belgium. This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 644313.

 

 

September 12th 2018

For those not able to attend this demonstration, a second demonstration will be held at the Proefstation voor de Groententeelt in Sint-Katelijne-Waver (Belgium) on September 12th.

 

The paper “Design of an eye-in-hand sensing and servo control framework for harvesting robotics in dense vegetation”, is listed in the five most downloaded Biosystems Engineering articles from ScienceDirect between January 2016 and July 2016. The publication is written by Ruud Barth, Jochen Hemming and Eldert van Henten and is based on results obtained in the SWEEPER-project. It describes a modular software framework design that allows flexible implementation of eye-in-hand sensing and motion control for agricultural robotics in dense vegetation.

The artile is published Biosystems Engineering, Volume 146, June 2016, Pages 71–84 and can be accessed through this this link.