DOI: 10.3390/horticulturae10010040 ISSN: 2311-7524

Active Laser-Camera Scanning for High-Precision Fruit Localization in Robotic Harvesting: System Design and Calibration

Kaixiang Zhang, Pengyu Chu, Kyle Lammers, Zhaojian Li, Renfu Lu
  • Horticulture
  • Plant Science

Robust and effective fruit detection and localization is essential for robotic harvesting systems. While extensive research efforts have been devoted to improving fruit detection, less emphasis has been placed on the fruit localization aspect, which is a crucial yet challenging task due to limited depth accuracy from existing sensor measurements in the natural orchard environment with variable lighting conditions and foliage/branch occlusions. In this paper, we present the system design and calibration of an Active LAser-Camera Scanner (ALACS), a novel perception module for robust and high-precision fruit localization. The hardware of the ALACS mainly consists of a red line laser, an RGB camera, and a linear motion slide, which are seamlessly integrated into an active scanning scheme where a dynamic-targeting laser-triangulation principle is employed. A high-fidelity extrinsic model is developed to pair the laser illumination and the RGB camera, enabling precise depth computation when the target is captured by both sensors. A random sample consensus-based robust calibration scheme is then designed to calibrate the model parameters based on collected data. Comprehensive evaluations are conducted to validate the system model and calibration scheme. The results show that the proposed calibration method can detect and remove data outliers to achieve robust parameter computation, and the calibrated ALACS system is able to achieve high-precision localization with the maximum depth measurement error being less than 4 mm at distance ranging from 0.6 to 1.2 m.

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