Baton Rouge, LA

LSU engineering students design a robotic arm for crawfish harvesting

Ashley Lideau

BATON ROUGE, LA - Louisiana State University Biological and Agricultural Engineering, or LSU BE, senior students recently designed a robotic arm to help crawfish harvesting.

Crawfish harvesting has been a tradition in South Louisiana since the late 1800s. More than 100 million pounds of crawfish are harvested every year between March and June.

While harvesting is labor-intensive work, there is only one person on each boat. The crawfish farmer has to drive the ship and pick up, empty, and rebait the traps simultaneously. The LSU BE team believes that their robotic arm would increase workers' time and money efficiency and reduce the risk of back injuries.

"I don't think there's anything wrong with the way crawfish is currently harvested, but if there's a possibility to improve the way we are harvesting, we should try," LSU BE senior Ben Thomas said.

"The main reason to build the arm is to improve speed, which would increase productivity. Most agricultural production is trying to be automated to increase yield, and with the growth of the crawfish industry, we thought we'd give it a try."

According to the team's test results, the design is 87.78 percent reliable in picking up traps at an average person's speed. The group thought that if the arm could be fully autonomous, it would reduce the grabbing time significantly.

"The crawfish industry in Louisiana alone is massive, and to be involved in something that is ingrained within our culture is pretty neat," said Sarah Mitchell, one of the team members. "I think it will be exciting to see the finished product in the future and be able to say I was part of the team that created a prototype for this."

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