Advancements in Agricultural Robots for Specialty Crops: A Comprehensive Review of Innovations, Challenges, and Prospects

Published: 26 March 2024| Version 3 | DOI: 10.17632/482j99rfpz.3


The emergence of robot technology presents opportunity to revolutionize specialty crop production, offering crucial support across various activities such as planting, supporting general traits, and harvesting. These robots play a pivotal role in keeping stakeholders up-to-date of developments in their production fields, while providing them the capability to automate laborious tasks. Then, to elucidate the advancements in this domain, we present a comprehensive review covering from 1988 to 2023, meticulously examining the state-of-the-art in robots for specialty crops. A rigorous search strategy was formulated, leveraging the Scopus® and Web of ScienceTM databases to ensure a thorough investigation. Careful selection of keywords such as "robot" and "specialty crops" was employed to enhance comprehension and comprehensiveness. Only peer-reviewed papers were considered, resulting in the inclusion of 706 papers. Each paper was meticulous evaluated by a panel of reviewers who evaluated various aspects including titles, abstracts, keywords, methods, conclusions, and declarations. Consistency and eligibility were predominant in determining which papers met the stringent inclusion criteria. Any discrepancies or disagreements were resolved through rigorous consensus-building discussions among the reviewers. The primary aim of this review is to contribute scientifically to the understanding of robots for specialty crops within the research landscape, elucidating current limitations and suggesting opportunities for future investigations. Finally, our insights serve to unravel the intricate dynamics of technological advancements within the field, while also supporting the cause of cultivating a more sustainable and resilient agricultural landscape for specialty crops.


Steps to reproduce

We conducted a meticulous review by diving into the contemporaneous literature of robots and specialty crops. We defined Scopus® and Web of ScienceTM as databases to retrieve scholarly items to elaborate on a driving bibliometric compilation. We arranged indexing terms and Boolean operators into a representative research engine string, i.e., [title-abstract-keyword = (robot OR unmanned ground vehicle OR UGV) AND (specialty crops OR fruits OR vegetables OR tree nuts OR dried fruits OR horticulture OR nursery crops)], to strike them. We focused our review on the period of 1988-2023 to refer to the broadest bibliographic collection, from the emergence of robots in the typical literature on specialty crops to the latest complete year of publication in both electronic databases. Our survey produced 3,480 potential studies. However, our reviewers (MRBJ, RGS, LAS) independently assessed them for consistency and eligibility. They selected only studies fitting within our scope of operating robots for specialty crops, consciously excluding experiments on non-robot related support, duplicates to prevent bias, non-English, and any “grey literature” to the soundness of our approach. Therefore, 2,774 studies were removed. For the 706 remaining, we strictly filtered them by journal, country, crops, and subject.


University of Georgia


Robotics, Fruit, Vegetable, Literature Review, Precision Agriculture, Horticultural Crops