The target of this research project was a feasibility study for the development of a robot for automatic or semi-automatic artichoke harvesting. During this project, different solutions for the mechanical parts of the machine, its control system and the harvesting tools were investigated. Moreover, in cooperation with the department DISPA of University of Catania, different field structures with different kinds of artichoke cultivars were studied and tested. The results of this research could improve artichoke production for preserves industries. As a first step, an investigation on existing machines has been done. From this research, it has been shown that very few machines exist for this purpose. Based also on previous experiences, some proposals for different robotic systems have been done, while the mobile platform itself was developed within another research project. At the current stage, several different configurations of machines and harvesting end-effectors have been designed and simulated using a 3D CAD environment interfaced with Matlab®
. Moreover, as support for one of the proposed machines, an artificial vision algorithm has been developed in order to locate the artichokes on the plant, with respect to the robot, using images taken with a standard webcam.