Date of Award


Document Type



Santa Clara : Santa Clara University, 2019


Mechanical Engineering

First Advisor

Christopher Kitts


The Romaine Robotics Senior Design Team developed a romaine lettuce heart trimming system in partnership with a Salinas farm to address a growing labor shortage in the agricultural industry that is resulting in crops rotting in the field before they could be harvested. An automated trimmer can alleviate the most time consuming step in the cut-trim-bag harvesting process, increasing the yields of robotic cutters or the speed of existing laborer teams. Leveraging the Partner Farm’s existing trimmer architecture, which consists of a laborer loading lettuce into sprungloaded grippers that are rotated through vision and cutting systems by an indexer, the team redesigned geometry to improve the loading, gripping, and ejection stages of the system. Physical testing, hand calculations, and FEA were performed to understand acceptable grip strengths and cup design, and several wooden mockups were built to explore a new actuating linkage design for the indexer. The team manufactured, assembled, and performed verification testing on a full-size metal motorized prototype that can be incorporated with the Partner Farm’s existing cutting and vision systems. The prototype met all of the established requirements, and the farm has implemented the redesign onto their trimmer. Future work would include designing and implementing vision and cutting systems for the team’s metal prototype.