An LSU engineering team has designed a robotic crawfish trap arm, according to a story from KATC TV3.

If you've never seen the process used to harvest crawfish, you don't know how much of an exciting prospect of an automated system probably is in the eyes of crawfish farmers.

A group of LSU Biological and Agricultural Engineering students is about to make life easier for harvesters of the mudbug across the globe. They have designed a robotic arm that almost automates the entire harvesting process when it comes to getting the crawfish from the traps.

Photo courtesy of Barry Toups

As it stands, the most automated portion of harvesting crawfish from the field is the boat: the "crawfish combine". But really, "automated" isn't the right word: let's use "modernized", as it is a boat on steroids. Most crawfish farmers use a flat-bottomed boat with a pulling wheel in the front that can be hydraulically steered (with foot controls), and a trailing wheel to keep the back of the boat from drifting. Having foot controls for the boat allows the crawfish farmer to keep his or her hands free to pick up, empty, rebait, and replace the traps in the field. And having a boat that is self-propelled keeps the farmer from having to walk the fields.

Photo by Barry Toups

The robotic arm, tested at 1/3 scale, can grab a crawfish trap, dump the crawfish (and, hopefully, NO SNAKES!), rebait the trap, and reset the trap in the field.

The only thing that, at this point, the robotic arm does not do is line up the arm with the traps. I expect, with all the brains in the engineering department at LSU, it won't be long before there are sensors on the trap to alert the arm as to its whereabouts.

The robotic arm, in lab tests, operates at approximately the same speed as a human.

Ben Thomas, an LSU senior from Crowley, is on the team that designed the arm which, believe it or not, is controlled with a Playstation 4 controller, according to the story.

If this device ever goes into production, and if the industry embraces the technology, could it mean cheaper crawfish prices in the future? Only time will tell.

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