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1. WO2020160208 - ROBOT DE RÉCOLTE DE CULTURE

Note: Texte fondé sur des processus automatiques de reconnaissance optique de caractères. Seule la version PDF a une valeur juridique

[ EN ]

WHAT IS CLAIMED IS:

1. A crop harvesting apparatus, comprising:

a vacuum source;

a crop sorter in connection with the vacuum source, the crop sorter configured to sort crops based on at least one criterion;

an end-effector, comprising:

an end-effector nozzle having an opening; and

a flexible tube facilitating connection of the end-effector to the crop sorter, the flexible tube having a smooth inner surface;

a garnering camera configured to collect information related to the at least one criterion and generate garnering crop criteria data;

a sorting camera configured to collect information related to the at least one criterion and generate sorting crop criteria data;

an actuating system configured to support and position the end-effector.

a control module configured to receive and analyze the garnering crop criteria data and the sorting crop criteria data to identify crops meeting the at least one criterion and crops not meeting the at least one criterion, the at least one criterion being any one or combination of a type, a size, a color, a hue, a ripeness, insect infestation, presence of fungi, presence of bacteria, and presence of spots or discoloration of crops or plants associated with the crops; wherein:

the control module is configured to perform a first examination using the garnering crop criteria data to determine whether crops meet the at least one criterion or not meet the at least one criterion, and based on the first examination cause the

crop harvesting apparatus to selectively gamer crops from a plant through the end- effector;

the control module is configured to perform a second examination using the sorting crop criteria data to determine whether the garnered crops meet the at least one criterion or not meet the at least one criterion, and based on the second examination cause the crop harvesting apparatus to generate a first path or a second path for the garnered crops, the first path being an acceptance path designated for garnered crops that meet the at least one criterion, and the second path being a rejection path designated for garnered crops that do not meet the at least one criterion.

2. The crop harvesting apparatus recited in claim 1, wherein the control module is configured to selectively gamer crops by causing the actuating system to position the end-effector nozzle proximate to a target crop so that a suction force generated via the vacuum source removes the target crop from the plant, the target crop being identified at meeting the at least one criterion via the first examination.

3. The crop harvesting apparatus recited in claim 1 , wherein the end-effector nozzle opening is angled.

4. The crop harvesting apparatus recited in claim 1, wherein the end-effector has an inner surface and an outer surface, and the end-effector inner surface has a lip formed at the end-effector nozzle opening and/or a spring element disposed at the end-effector nozzle opening.

5. The crop harvesting apparatus recited in claim 1 , further comprising a camera disposed on the end-effector.

6. The crop harvesting apparatus recited in claim 1 , further comprising a cap removably securable to the end-effector nozzle at the end-effector nozzle opening, wherein securing the cap to the end-effector nozzle reduces a size or modifies a shape of the end-effector nozzle opening.

7. The crop harvesting apparatus recited in claim 1 , wherein:

the crop sorter comprises a conduit structure the first path is generated by a portion of the conduit structure that facilitates movement of the garnered crops from the end-effector, into a hopper.

the second path is generated by a portion of the conduit structure that facilitates movement of the garnered crops from the end-effector, into a reject bin.

8. The crop harvesting apparatus recited in claim 7, wherein the sorting camera is located within the end effector.

9. The crop harvesting apparatus recited in claim 7, wherein the crop sorter comprises a plurality of gates located within the conduit structure.

10. The crop harvesting apparatus recited in claim 9, wherein:

the plurality of gates comprises a first gate, a second gate, and a third gate;

the first gate selectively provides fluid communication between the crop sorter and the hopper.

the second gate selectively provides fluid communication between the crop sorter and the end effector,

the third gate selectively provides fluid communication between the crop sorter and an outlet.

1 1. The crop harvesting apparatus recited in claim 10, wherein:

the first path includes the portion of the conduit structure from the end-effector to the hopper; and

the second path includes the portion of the conduit structure from the end-effector to the reject bin.

12. The crop harvesting apparatus recited in claim 1 1 , wherein the control module is configured to control the plurality of gates so that the garnered crops follow the first path and/or the second path based on a combination of gravity and vacuum suction.

13. The crop harvesting apparatus recited in claim 12, wherein:

the control module is configured to generate the first path via a first operational stage and a second operational stage;

during the first operational stage:

the vacuum source generates suction;

the second gate is open to provide the generated suction at the end-effector nozzle opening and to facilitate garnering crops from the plant through the end- effector; and

as soon as the crop passes a first break beam, a second operational stage is initiated where the second gate is closed; and

the third gate is open to allow airflow to the vacuum source to prevent overheating; and

the first gate opens to allow gravity and momentum of the crop to cause the crop to fall into the hopper.

14. The crop harvesting apparatus recited in claim 13, wherein the sorting camera is configured to collect information related to the at least one criterion from the garnered crops while the crop is in the end-effector.

15. The crop harvesting apparatus recited in claim 1 , wherein:

the control module is configured to generate the second path via a first operational stage and a second operational stage;

during the first operational stage:

the vacuum source generates suction;

the second gate is open to provide the generated suction at the end-effector nozzle opening and to facilitate garnering crops from the plant through the end- effector; and

as soon as the crop passes a first break beam the first gate opens, allowing vacuum suction to bring the crop along the second path into a reject bin.

16. The crop harvesting apparatus recited in claim 9, wherein each gate of the plurality of gates comprises:

a first plate having a first plate conduit aperture and a first plate spindle aperture, the first plate conduit aperture being in-line with the conduit structure;

a disk having a disk spindle aperture, the disk being configured to be placed adjacent the first plate;

a second plate having a second plate conduit aperture, the second plate being configured to be placed adjacent the first plate, the second plate conduit aperture being in-line with the conduit structure;

two o-rings to seal between the first plate, the disk, and the second plate.

a gate motor having a spindle, the gate motor being configured to be placed adjacent the first plate; and

a gate motor collar configured to be placed adjacent the disk;

wherein the first plate conduit aperture and a first plate spindle aperture are configured to limit rotational motion of the disk;

wherein the spindle extends through the first plate spindle aperture and the disk spindle aperture to engage with the gate motor collar so that the gate motor collar securely retains the first plate and the disk in position;

wherein the first plate spindle aperture allows for free rotation of the spindle;

wherein the shaft collar spindle aperture engages the disk spindle aperture and the spindle so that rotation of the spindle causes rotation of the disk; and

wherein when the gate motor causes the spindle to rotate, the disk rotates to obstruct or unobstruct the conduit structure.

17. The crop harvesting apparatus recited in claim 1 , further comprising a propulsion motor configured to cause the crop harvesting apparatus to traverse a ground surface.

18. An end-effector for a vacuum collection apparatus, comprising:

an end-effector nozzle having a first end, a second end, an inner surface, and an outer surface, the first end having an angled opening;

a lip formed on the inner surface at the first end and/or a spring disposed on the inner surface at the first end; and

a flexible tube connected to the second end. the flexible tube having a smooth inner surface.

19. A gate apparatus, comprising:

a first plate having a first plate conduit aperture and a first plate spindle aperture, the first plate conduit aperture being in-line with the conduit structure;

a disk having a disk spindle aperture and a disk conduit aperture, the disk being configured to be placed adjacent the first plate;

a second plate having a second plate conduit aperture, the second plate being configured to be placed adjacent the disk, the second plate conduit aperture being in-line with the conduit structure;

a gate motor having a spindle, the gate motor being configured to be placed adjacent the disk; and

a gate motor collar configured to be placed adjacent the second plate;

two o-rings to seal between the first plate, the disk, and the second plate;

wherein the spindle extends through the first plate spindle aperture and the disk spindle aperture to engage with the gate motor collar so that the gate motor collar securely retains the first plate and the disk in position;

wherein the first plate spindle allows for free rotation of the spindle;

wherein the disk spindle aperture engages the spindle and the shaft collar spindle aperture so that rotation of the spindle causes rotation of the disk; and

wherein when the gate motor causes the spindle to rotate, the disk rotates to obstruct or unobstruct the conduit structure.