Technical Comittee on: Agricultural Robotics and Automation
Program April, 2015

Jim Ostrowski, Blue River Technology, USA: Developing Robust Systems for Lettuce Thinning and Phenotyping

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In this talk, I will describe Blue River's progress developing commercial systems for tackling real-world challenges faced by farmers and breeders in day-to-day activities. Our first product is a machine that utilizes tools from computer vision, robotics, and machine learning to perform lettuce thinning (an operation similar to weeding). I will describe this problem and discuss some of the challenges faced in building this from a prototype to a production machine capable of analyzing millions of plants (several acres) per hour. In addition, I will discuss some of the trade-offs that were made and future areas to be explored, such as weeding in more general crops. I will also highlight some of our work in high-throughput phenotyping for use in conjunction with genotypic information collected by breeders.


Dr. Jim Ostrowski is Vice President of Engineering for Blue River Technology, a California-based company working to bring tools from computer vision and robotics to bear in agriculture. Before that, he worked for Evolution Robotics, which later became Evolution Robotics Retail, before being acquired by Datalogic. Jim's field of expertise includes mobile robotics, nonlinear dynamics, and vision-based recognition and control. Before joining the start-up world, Jim was at the University of Pennsylvania, where he was a tenured Associate Professor in the Department of Mechanical Engineering and a member of the General Robotics, Sensing, Automation and Perception (GRASP) Laboratory. He holds a Ph.D. in Mechanical Engineering from the California Institute of Technology. He is a former Associate Editor for the journal IEEE Transactions on Robotics and Automation, was the recipient of the NSF CAREER Young Investigator Award for his work in robotics, and received a Datalogic VIP award for his technical work on the LaneHawk product.

Last modified: jun. 2015 by Eldert van Henten and Sam Blaauw