The first project of Mi5 Team Bogotá concerns a smart farming implementation in Colombian coffee fields. Currently, the harvesting is a fully handmade activity. The two main reasons for that are:
- Field conformation: Colombian coffee fields are located on hillsides and valleys that have a complex and challenging topography for traditional automated harvesting machines. Fields can reach an inclination from 30% to 100%.
- Fruit heterogeneity: coffee bean ripening is not uniform. Therefore, it is necessary to harvest just the red beans while the others must remain in the branch.
These restrictions make the handmade harvesting the most viable and used method in Colombia. However, the manpower has been decreasing in the last years due to population migration to the cities. This situation creates a deficit of labor force in the fields.
The National Coffee Research Center (Cenicafé the Spanish acronym) has been investigating for automating the harvesting operation. Recently, Cenicafé developed a “caucciú” gripper able to harvest coffee beans once in contact with them. Therefore, there is the need of a device able to recognize and place the gripper in contact with the mature beans.
Mi5 Team Bogotá will design and develop a mechanism able to recognize mature coffee beans and their location. The mechanism will consist of a tube for isolating the working environment and a rail for allowing the movement of a camera along the branch. Algorithms for recognizing mature coffee beans and their spatial location, light disturbance, camera radial position and orientation degrees of freedom, tube dimension, material and color will be some of the challenges the team is going to work on.