Protected cultivation systems such as greenhouses are becoming increasingly popular globally and have been adopted because of unpredictable climatic conditions and their ability to easily control micro- and macroenvironments. However, limitations such as hazardous work environments and shortages in labor are major concerns for agricultural production using these structures. This has led to the development and adoption of robotic systems.
For the efficient use of robots in protected cultivation systems, this research formulates the work efficiency problem and model a three-dimensional standard strawberry greenhouse to analyze the effectiveness of a strawberry-harvesting robot compared to different levels of human workforce (experienced, average, and beginner). Simulations are conducted using Quest software to compare the efficiency of different scenarios of robotics to humans. Different methods of improvement from battery capacity and charge rate to harvesting speed are investigated and optimal conditions are recommended. The average hourly production of the robot is about five times lower than that of skilled workers. However, robots are more productive due to their ability to work around the clock. Comparative analyses show that a reduction in harvesting time per strawberry from 3 to 1 s would result in an increase in daily production from 347.93 to 1021.30 kg. This would lead to a fivefold increase in comparison to present daily production.
A 10% improvement in battery charge time would result in the battery capacity gaining two extra hours from the current 10 h and would cut the current 2 h needed for charge to 1 h. This paper proposes an operation process and suggestions for changes needed for improving the work efficiency of robots in a greenhouse. This could be extended to other crops and greenhouses.
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Woo, Seungmin & Uyeh, Daniel & Kim, Junhee & Kim, Yeongsu & Kang, Seokho & Kim, Kyoung & Lee, Si & Ha, Yushin & Lee, Won. (2020). Analyses of Work Efficiency of a Strawberry-Harvesting Robot in an Automated Greenhouse. Agronomy. 10. 1751. 10.3390/agronomy10111751.