Colloquium: Estimating plant shape in field settings
Amy Tabb holds degrees from Sweet Briar College (B.A. Math/Computer Science and Music), Duke University (M.A. Musicology), and Purdue University (M.S. and Ph.D. Electrical and Computer Engineering) and currently holds the position of Research Agricultural Engineer at a US Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service laboratory in Kearneysville, West Virginia. There, she has been engaged in creating systems for automation in the tree fruit industry. Her research interests are within the fields of computer vision and robotics, in particular robust three-dimensional reconstruction and reasoning in outdoor conditions.
Despite automation advances in other areas of agriculture, particularly crops that can be grown uniformly such as field crops, the primary tools of workers in the tree fruit industry are still buckets, ladders, and hand tools. This requirement of hand labor to maintain, manage, and harvest crops in the midst of labor non-availability and the uncertainty injected by climate change led to the development of two projects that will be discussed in this talk. The first concerns dormant pruning of fruit trees, while the second concerns structural phenotyping. Both projects aim for efficient crop production, the first through timely pruning, and the second through breeding trees with optimal structural characteristics. These two projects are similar from the computer vision perspective in that they require shape models to be estimated from sensor data. I will describe how tree shape is estimated using robots and cameras in laboratory as well as in field conditions. Related collaborative work with molecular biologists and entomologists will be briefly discussed as well.