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ARS Home » Midwest Area » East Lansing, Michigan » Sugarbeet and Bean Research » Research » Research Project #445535

Research Project: Development of an Automated and Integrated Mobile System (AIMS) for Apple Harvest and In-field Sorting - Washington State University

Location: Sugarbeet and Bean Research

Project Number: 5050-43640-003-018-A
Project Type: Cooperative Agreement

Start Date: Sep 15, 2023
End Date: Jul 14, 2027

1. evaluate and demonstrate the multi-arm robot and Automated and Integrated Mobile System (AIMS) in diverse commercial orchard systems and with different operational strategies in Washington and disseminate the technologies to growers and packers through extension and outreach activities; 2. conduct cost benefit analyses of automated harvesting and in-field sorting technologies and the impact of different models of technology adoption on the U.S. apple industry and the future labor force.

Cooperator will work with ARS PI and other members of the project to plan and organize field tests and demonstrations of the harvesting robot (module only) and Automated and Integrated Mobile System (AIMS) in commercial high-density orchards in Washington to growers and K-12 and university students. In-person and virtual extension activities will be organized to disseminate project findings through oral presentation, written publications, podcasts, and webinars for growers and industry partners. Cooperator will assess grower and industry perception and potential adoption of AIMS technology for use in the Washington tree fruit industry. Undergraduate and graduate students will also be mentored or trained to be future leaders in agricultural science, technology, education and outreach. Analyses will be conducted on the potential change in apple production profits by comparing manual versus Automated and Integrated Mobile System (AIMS) harvesting with sensitivity analysis for varying bruising rates, harvest worker wages, full picking versus selective picking, and the efficiency of the in-field pre-sorting system intended to reduce pack-out costs. The long-term viability of the H-2A program and its potential impact on the adoption of robotic harvesting technology will also be assessed.