We go beyond ‘full service,’ start with commercial validation and work back to technical feasibility. There is little point creating
a technical solution that is not suitable or is too expensive to be commercially viable.
We start with the end-user to understand the complete problem and their requirements for complete current and any proposed future systems. These are not just technical requirements, but practical elements that can make the difference towards end-user experience and suitability. After working with the end-users to understand their complete requirements, technical validation is carried out across the entire system. Estimated production costs are normally considered and used to assess commercial payback and viability. Once suitable business models are developed the technical elements begin, commencing with Research and Development, to commercialisation and into production phases.
The practice of plant growth for human advantage has been recorded for 8000 years. Use of mechanical systems has made horticulture progressively more amenable and productive as humankind moved from digging stick, to mattock, to plough, to steam tractor and combine harvester.
The time spent by horticultural labourers (an average 70-hour workweek) has decreased to forty or fifty hours. Mechanical aids have also eased the heavy manual labour requirement.
However, the labourer’s work remains repetitive and physically demanding and is yet to experience the full advantages of significant mechanisations. Development of autonomous mechanised solutions is the next technological progression for horticulture. This thesis outlines development of an autonomous harvesting solution for kiwifruit, delivering solutions to the complex task of harvesting fruit on-orchard.