Stavros Vougioukas:
Robotic harvesters and harvest-aids: Challenges and opportunities


Stavros Vougioukas is a Professor of Biological and Agricultural Engineering, at the University of California, Davis. He received his Ph.D. in Electrical, Computer and Systems Engineering from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Troy, NY, in Robotics and Automation, under a Fulbright fellowship. Before joining the UC, he worked as post-doctoral researcher at the Department of Industrial Engineering at the University of Parma, Italy, and as faculty at Aristotle University, Greece, at the department of Agricultural Engineering.

He has published more than 100 journal and conference papers, most of them in the areas of agricultural robotics and automation. He is currently leading several research projects on agricultural robotics – focusing on labor saving technologies – with funding from grower commodity boards, federal agencies, and private industry.

Presentation Abstract

Agricultural robots offer advanced sensing and actuation functionalities that can drastically improve crop breeding, precision management, and the efficiency of labor-intensive tasks. Harvesting fresh-market fruits and vegetables are the most labor-intensive operation in specialty crop production. Despite decades of research, commercial-scale robotic harvesting is still an elusive target, especially for crops grown outdoors. This presentation will discuss the main challenges for cost-efficient robotic harvesting. It will also present results from robot-aided harvesting, which aims to increase harvest efficiency without replacing the farm workers. Finally, directions for future research and development will be suggested, aiming to spark ‘fruitful’ discussion.