An Autonomous Pallet-Stacking Robot for Field Use
Profile last edited on: 3/29/21

Total Award Amount
Award Phase
Principal Investigator
John E Tanner
Activity Indicator

Company Information

Tanner Research Inc

1851 Huntington Boulevard
Duarte, CA 91010
   (626) 471-9700
Multiple Locations:   
Congressional District:   32
County:   Los Angeles

Phase I

Phase I year
Phase I Amount
We propose to develop a lightweight and affordable one-armed autonomous robot to transfer produce from a wheeled transport robot to a pallet. In-field automation improves efficiency by increasing production and/or reducing labor costs by up to $35M/year for California strawberries alone. Our robot will improve health and safety by reducing worker injuries from repeated lifting and by minimizing chances for produce contamination from human-borne bacteria and microorganisms. The robotic arm must be safe, reliable, affordable, lightweight, and portable--more so than existing commercial robotic arms. The robot must be rugged (survive high throughput use), low power (battery operation for 4+ hours), and capable of quickly moving produce boxes. Our robot will be aided in achieving these requirements by containing lightweight compliant links driven by cables, with motors in the base. During the Phase I effort, we will design and construct the prototype hardware and firmware. We propose an aggressive Phase I program because we have software, hardware, and electronics modules from our existing autonomous produce transport robots. By the end of Phase I we expect to demonstrate a functioning six degree of freedom arm moving a produce box under manual electronic control. In Phase II, we will demonstrate full autonomous operation (including collision avoidance, target identification, and motion algorithms). Phase II will include more extensive field trials with the arm interacting with transport robots, produce boxes, and a human manager. We will first commercialize with our lead customer Terry Farms before expanding to other berry and lightweight produce growers.

Phase II

Phase II year
Phase II Amount