Professor Pedro Cárdenas, from the Department of Mechanical and Mechatronic Engineering at the National University of Colombia (UNAL), and a group of students of Mechatronic Engineering—Juregn Krejci, Alejandro Marín, Sebastián Realpe, Johan Ramírez, and Luis Rodríguez—developed a new robotic classification system as part of the final project of their Robotics course. They used spare parts from ABB robots to build this design.
The idea of the project was to develop an industrial robotics application for the agricultural sector that was as close as possible to reality.
And they did it.
The students designed a gripper to pick oranges, and integrated it into a system to automatically sort them based on a strawberry sorter, developed at Lego Mindstorms.
How was it developed?
They used the Xbox 360’s Kinect depth camera for a lot of the robot’s functions. It allowed them to capture the location of the fruits as they passed on a conveyor belt. When the product went by, a gripper designed by the students—which was the final tool of the ABB robot—picked up the product using suction cups. They were directed by a vision algorithm that detected the position of the fruit in the container. The data is monitored by a computer that then sends the information to the robot control that receives the product through a code.
Sebastián Realpe, the student in charge of communication configuration explains the process,
“It is a system made up of the mechanical unit and a controller. The first one refers to the motors, that is to say the robot, while the second one provides indications on how to move. When the controller was in that position, it told the robot how to move, so it positioned itself on top of the fruit, picked it up and took it to the sorting place. This is a cycle where it continues to move automatically.”
A student member of the Jurgen Krejci team, who is also the coordinator of the Moment UN seedbed, where this project was presented says, “This project also shows the opportunities that robotics and automation represent providing solutions to the agricultural sector by optimizing its processes and making them more competitive compared to countries that already have automated fruit harvesting and classification.”
This is a new robotic solution that’s aimed at the agricultural industry, uses new technologies through industrial robots to automate, and optimizes harvesting and classification of products, or fruits in this case.
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