Tendon-Driven Soft Robotic Gripper for Blackberry Harvesting

Anthony Gunderman1, Jeremy Collins2, Andrea Myers1, Renee Threlfall1, Yue Chen

  • 1University of Arkansas
  • 2Georgia Institute of Technology

Details

11:00 - 11:05 | Wed 25 May | Room 122A | WeA15.11

Session: Soft Robot Applications

Abstract

Global berry production and consumption have significantly increased in recent years, coinciding with increased consumer awareness of the health-promoting benefits of berries. Of those consumed, fresh-market blackberries are primarily harvested by hand to maintain postharvest quality. However, the forces applied during hand harvesting can result in major losses of marketable berries to red drupelet reversion (RDR). What is more, manual harvesting is a costly endeavor that accounts for up to 50% of the person-hours involved in berry production. Herein, we present a novel, tendon-driven soft robotic gripper with active contact force feedback control, which leverages the passive compliance of the gripper to allow the gentle harvesting of berries. The versatile gripper can generate a desired force as low as 0.5 N with a mean error of 0.046 N. Field test results indicate that the robotic gripper is capable of harvesting berries with 16% RDR while maintaining a harvesting reliability of 95.24% at a harvesting rate of approximately 4.8 seconds per berry.