The following paper is a “Q&A interview” conducted by Joanne Pransky of Industrial Robot Journal as a method to impart the combined technological, business and personal experience of a robotic industry engineer-turned-innovator regarding the challenges of bringing technological discoveries to fruition. The paper aims to discuss these issues.
The interviewee is Tony Koselka, Co-founder and Chief Operating Officer, Vision Robotics Corporation (VRC). In this interview, Koselka shares how he first got started in the robotics field along with his experiences in running his start-up.
Koselka earned a bachelor’s and a master’s degree in mechanical engineering from MIT. Prior to his work at VRC, he successfully co-founded and sold his first start-up, CyberGear. VRC was formed in 1999 with the goal to develop autonomous robotic solutions that focused on vision-based mapping. With strategic partners, the team began work on consumer applications that enabled the company to create a uniquely robust and cost-effective approach to robotics. It entered the agricultural market in 2004 with a feasibility study for harvesting oranges. While waiting for picking-hand technology to catch up with the machine vision, the initial concept transformed into a deployable crop-load estimation system for tree fruit. In 2011, VRC was approached by lettuce growers to develop a lettuce thinner. In a few months, the company built its lettuce thinner, which was released in 2012 and since then has collectively thinned hundreds of thousands of acres.
Koselka is an award-winning design engineer who holds 21 US patents. He has managed the design of all the mechanical systems of his start-up, VRC, including those on the lettuce thinner and the grapevine pruner, which enable robots to intelligently and accurately perform myriad tasks, including pruning, weeding and thinning.
Pransky, J. (2020), "The Pransky interview: Tony (Harvey) Koselka, Co-founder and Chief Operating Officer, Vision Robotics Corporation", Industrial Robot, Vol. 47 No. 2, pp. 147-151. https://doi.org/10.1108/IR-01-2020-0012
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