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.