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INESC TEC researcher receives honourable mention for best paper at international conference

Vítor Tinoco received an honourable mention for his paper, awarded by the Industrial Robot journal. The researcher’s work focuses on robotics and agriculture. 

01st June 2021

The acknowledgement, within the scope of the ICARSC’2021 Conference – IEEE International Conference on Autonomous Robot Systems and Competitions, highlighted the researcher’s work, published in late April. The study “The Review of Pruning and Harvesting Manipulators” is a systematic review of robotic manipulators used in agriculture for fruit harvesting or plant pruning. The work gathers information about the instruments and their respective issues. 

“When we talk about an industrial environment, the objects that the robots pick up are all the same size, and they have identical shapes. They are always the same as well. In an agricultural environment, we never get the same exact objects. In this sense, it’s important to study the force needed to pick a fruit and collect it, without damaging the plant. The same applies to pruning – the force required to move the branch must be accurate. This is an unsolved challenge”, explained the researcher, who is also a PhD student in Electrical and Computer Engineering at UTAD. 

One of the solutions explored is the use of artificial intelligence, so that the manipulators identify and detect fruits and branches for pruning. Computer vision can also help robots estimate the position in which they have to place themselves, in order to collect a fruit without damaging it. 

Although the conference’s organising committee did not disclose the criteria, Vítor Tinoco believes that the quality of writing and structure were crucial to receiving the honourable mention. The combination of robotics and agriculture inspires the researcher to develop future solutions that can change the agriculture paradigm. 

“There are more and more people on the planet that require food, but there is less and less labour force in the field of agriculture. And said human resources are quite expensive. This is one of the issues that this type of projects tries to address”, he concluded. 

The researcher mentioned in this news piece is associated with INESC TEC.