Development of a sweet pepper harvesting robot

Boaz Arad, Jos Balendonck, Ruud Barth, Ohad Ben-Shahar, Yael Edan, Thomas Hellström, Jochen Hemming, Polina Kurtser, Ola Ringdahl, Toon Tielen, Bart van Tuijl

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This paper presents the development, testing and validation of SWEEPER, a robot for harvesting sweet pepper fruit in greenhouses. The robotic system includes a six degrees of freedom industrial arm equipped with a specially designed end effector, RGB-D camera, high-end computer with graphics processing unit, programmable logic controllers, other electronic equipment, and a small container to store harvested fruit. All is mounted on a cart that autonomously drives on pipe rails and concrete floor in the end-user environment. The overall operation of the harvesting robot is described along with details of the algorithms for fruit detection and localization, grasp pose estimation, and motion control. The main contributions of this paper are the integrated system design and its validation and extensive field testing in a commercial greenhouse for different varieties and growing conditions. A total of 262 fruits were involved in a 4-week long testing period. The average cycle time to harvest a fruit was 24 s. Logistics took approximately 50% of this time (7.8 s for discharge of fruit and 4.7 s for platform movements). Laboratory experiments have proven that the cycle time can be reduced to 15 s by running the robot manipulator at a higher speed. The harvest success rates were 61% for the best fit crop conditions and 18% in current crop conditions. This reveals the importance of finding the best fit crop conditions and crop varieties for successful robotic harvesting. The SWEEPER robot is the first sweet pepper harvesting robot to demonstrate this kind of performance in a commercial greenhouse.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)1027-1039
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Field Robotics
Issue number6
StatePublished - 1 Sep 2020


  • agriculture
  • computer vision
  • field test
  • motion control
  • real-world conditions
  • robotics

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Control and Systems Engineering
  • Computer Science Applications


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