Evaluation of a new apple in-field sorting system for fruit singulation, rotation and imaging

Article


Pothula, Anand Kumar, Zhang, Zhao and Lu, Renfu. 2023. "Evaluation of a new apple in-field sorting system for fruit singulation, rotation and imaging." Computers and Electronics in Agriculture. 208. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.compag.2023.107789
Article Title

Evaluation of a new apple in-field sorting system for fruit singulation, rotation and imaging

ERA Journal ID41630
Article CategoryArticle
AuthorsPothula, Anand Kumar, Zhang, Zhao and Lu, Renfu
Journal TitleComputers and Electronics in Agriculture
Journal Citation208
Article Number107789
Number of Pages11
Year2023
PublisherElsevier
Place of PublicationNetherlands
ISSN0168-1699
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)https://doi.org/10.1016/j.compag.2023.107789
Web Address (URL)https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0168169923001771
AbstractAutomated, computer-imaging based in-field grading and sorting of apples at the time of harvest has the potential to help growers achieve significant cost savings in postharvest storage and packing. Singulation and rotation of fruit are essential steps for a computer imaging-based grading/sorting system. We have recently developed a novel compact, low-cost in-field apple sorting system, which consists of pairs of multi-stage helical conveyance drives to singulate, rotate and advance apples so that they can be inspected by a computer vision unit for quality grading. This study was aimed at evaluating the singulating and rotating performance of the sorting system for automatic inspection and grading of apples, in terms of conveying speed, fruit size, and the percentage of apple exposure area for imaging. Two apple varieties (i.e., ‘Golden Delicious’ and ‘Delicious’) were used for experimental evaluations. To determine the rotational behavior of apples, each quadrant of the apple surface was painted with different colors. Images were acquired for the apples at 15 frames per second and then automatically segmented for the estimation of exposed areas in terms of pixels. It was found that the number of images acquired for each fruit varied from 24 to 9 images when the speed of the sorting system was changed from 1 to 3 apples per second per lane. The singulating and rotating mechanism (SRM) provided continuous and relatively even rotation of the apples while conveying, which was confirmed by cumulative percentages of the four colored areas of ‘Golden Delicious’ and ‘Delicious’ apples at the three sorting speeds. At the sorting speed of 1 apple/s, the entire surface of each fruit was imaged for more than 4 times, while at 3 apples/s, the surface of the apples was imaged for at least 1.4 times. Hence, the sorting system with 3 sorting lanes is able to perform in-field quality grading of apples at a throughput of 9 or more apples/s.
KeywordsApple; Computer imaging ; In-field sorting ; Grading; Image segmentation ; Worm conveyor
ANZSRC Field of Research 20203099. Other agricultural, veterinary and food sciences
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Byline AffiliationsCentre for Agricultural Engineering
China Agricultural University, China
Department of Agriculture, United States
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