Autonomous Apple Fruitlet Sizing and Growth Rate Tracking using Computer Vision

by   Harry Freeman, et al.

Measuring growth rates of apple fruitlets is important because it allows apple growers to determine when to apply chemical thinners to their crops to optimize yield. The current practice of obtaining growth rates involves using calipers to record sizes of fruitlets across multiple days. Due to the number of fruitlets needed to be sized, this method is laborious, time-consuming, and prone to human error. In this paper, we present a computer vision approach to measure the sizes and growth rates of apple fruitlets. With images collected by a hand-held stereo camera, our system detects, segments, and fits ellipses to fruitlets to measure their diameters. To measure growth rates, we utilize an Attentional Graph Neural Network to associate fruitlets across different days. We provide quantitative results on data collected in an apple orchard, and demonstrate that our system is able to predict abscise rates within 3 current method with a 7 times improvement in speed, while requiring significantly less manual effort. Moreover, we provide results on images captured by a robotic system in the field, and discuss the next steps to make the process fully autonomous.


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