Crescent Valley Robotics Team Issued Patent
The Crescent Valley Robotics team has received a patent for one of its creations. In 2016, the team was approached about the need for a mechanical broccoli harvester by one of the team mentors. OSU had developed a new strain of broccoli that separated the leaves from the crown, making it a good candidate for mechanical harvesting.
In preparation, the students visited commercial farms to see how broccoli was hand-harvested and talked with farmers about the spacing of rows and plants. They first taught the robot to distinguish between broccoli crowns, leaves, and the ground. Students developed a computer model and then fabricated the components necessary to build the robot in the metals shop. Once a working prototype was developed, it was taken out for field testing and further refined and rebuilt.
The “BroccoliBot” broccoli harvesting robot has a sophisticated software process that allows it to recognize broccoli crowns that are ready to be harvested. The robot then adjusts the cutting blades to accurately and reproducibly cut the broccoli crown to the desired height. The prototype robot is capable of harvesting broccoli at a 1-mile-per-hour row speed.
Because of the unique functionality of the BroccoliBot and to ensure the students got credit for their invention, the mentors encouraged the student inventors to pursue a patent. They introduced them to patent attorney Paul Angello, who agreed to work pro-bono on the application and came to Corvallis to meet with the inventors to discuss and view the robot.
Once they decided to go forward with a patent application, the team worked to support Paul in applying, including providing drawings and code information. “I know of no situation in which high school students have been granted a U.S. patent on any school project, much less one with the degree of complexity and utility this one exhibits,” said Paul Angello, patent attorney from Stoel Rives. “This is not a paper patent; it discloses actual working hardware, supported by sophisticated operational process algorithms and computer programming flowcharts.”
The listed inventors on the patent are Crescent Valley graduates Duncan Freeman (2018), Mae Evans (2020), Abraham Mes (2018), Micah Mes (2020), Genevieve Nelson (2018), Carter Precourt (2020), Genevieve Sauret (2019), and Danielle Scutero (2020).
Thank you to the project sponsors USDA Specialty Crop Block Grant, Oregon Processed Vegetable Commission, Oregon Department of Agriculture, GK Machine, NORPAC, P&R Seeds, Oregon State University, HyTek Plastics, RJH Enterprises, and Stoel Rives.