“The United States is the world’s largest table olive and olive oil market. Traditionally olives have been harvested by pickers wearing gloves and they stripped down the branch into a twenty-pound bucket they wear around their waist. Unfortunately the cost is becoming prohibitive and labor availability is decreasing sharply. What we’re really hoping is the mechanical harvesting will be cheaper, be more reliable than trying to find an uneven labor force and it will allow us to sustain an industry that has a nice long history in California.” – Louise Ferguson, UC Davis Extension Specialist
UC Davis researchers go into rattlesnake country to study the interaction between snakes and squirrels. The snakes are real, but the squirrel is a robot.
“By bringing engineers and biologists together, we’re creating new ways of doing science. Hopefully making discoveries that would not have been made unless we brought these different fields together.” – Sanjay Joshi
A number of former and current students have built the robosquirrels over the years, primarily from the S. Joshi and D. Owings labs at UC Davis, in close collaboration with the R. Clark lab at SDSU. Former PhD student Aaron Rundus built the first robosquirrel for his laboratory studies, assisted by Nick Giannini and Erin Chin. Former MS student Ryan Johnson built the first outdoor robosquirrel for field studies, with input from Matthew Barbour. Alex Barszap, Zac Dillow, Armen Davtyan, Laine Tennyson, and Travis Kupp have modified the squirrels in various ways for continuing field studies, with help from Bree Putman.