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Automated small object sorting systems and methods / Monsanto Technology Llc




Automated small object sorting systems and methods


In various embodiments, a small object sorting system includes an object tray cart docking station configured to dock an object tray cart here within. The system additionally includes an automated tray removal and positioning subsystem configured to remove an object tray from the object tray cart, selectively position the tray such that selected small objects can be extracted therefrom, and replace the object tray into the object tray cart. Furthermore, the system includes...



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USPTO Applicaton #: #20160339481
Inventors: Kevin L. Deppermann, David W. Finley, Elias J. Yannakakis


The Patent Description & Claims data below is from USPTO Patent Application 20160339481, Automated small object sorting systems and methods.


CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS

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This application is a divisional of U.S. patent application Ser. No. 13/637,505 filed on Dec. 7, 2012, which is a National Stage of International Application No. PCT/US2011/025847, filed Feb. 23, 2011, which claims priority to U.S. Provisional Application No. 61/317,967 filed on Mar. 26, 2010. The disclosures of the above applications are incorporated herein by reference in its entirety.

Additionally, the present application is related in general subject matter to U.S. application Ser. No. 11/769,318, filed Jun. 27, 2007, and titled “Small Object Sorting System and Method”, which is assigned to the assignee of the present application.

FIELD

The present disclosure relates generally to a system and method for sorting small objects, such as seeds, pharmaceutical tablets or capsules, and any other agricultural, manufactured or produced small objects.

BACKGROUND

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The statements in this section merely provide background information related to the present disclosure and may not constitute prior art.

The sorting of small agricultural, manufactured and/or produced objects such as seeds, pharmaceutical tablets or capsules, small electrical components, ball bearings, small food products, etc. can be cumbersome, painstakingly tedious, and wrought with human error.

For example, in seed breeding, large numbers of seeds are sampled and analyzed to determine whether the seeds possess a particular genotype or traits of interest. Generally, seeds are sampled by removing a small portion of each seed, while leaving the remaining seed viable for planting. The removed portions, or chips, and the corresponding ‘donor’ seeds are then cataloged to track the seeds and the respective corresponding chips. Each chip is then analyzed to identify various attributes of the respective chip and donor seed, such as DNA characteristics and/or traits.

After the seeds are sampled and the chips have been analyzed, the seeds are individually sorted according to attributes of each respective seed. Typically, the sorting process is painstakingly performed by hand, which is extremely time consuming and subject to human error.

SUMMARY

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The present disclosure provides automated systems and methods for sorting small objects, such as seeds, pharmaceutical tablets or capsules, and any other agricultural, manufactured or produced small objects.

In various embodiments, an exemplary small object sorting system includes an object tray cart docking station that is structured and operable to receive and engage an object tray cart to dock the object tray cart within the object tray cart docking station. The system additionally includes an automated tray removal and positioning subsystem that is structured and operable to remove an object tray from the object tray cart, wherein the object tray including a plurality of wells and a plurality of small objects stored within the wells. The automated tray removal and positioning subsystem is further structured and operable to selectively position the removed tray such that selected ones of the small objects can be extracted from the removed object tray, and replace the removed object tray into the object tray cart after the selected small objects have been extracted. Furthermore, the system includes an automated collection assembly positioning subsystem that is structured and operable to selectively position a collection assembly such that the selected one or more small objects extracted from the removed object tray can be deposited into selected one or more of a plurality of object receptacles of the collection assembly. The system still further includes an automated object extraction subsystem that is structured and operable to extract the selected one or more small objects from the object tray and deposit each extracted small object into the selected one or more object receptacles.

In various other embodiments, an exemplary small object sorting method includes docking an object tray cart within an object tray cart docking station of an automated small object sorting system and removing an object tray from the object tray cart utilizing an automated tray removal and positioning subsystem of the automated small object sorting system, wherein the object tray includes a plurality of wells and a plurality of small objects stored within the wells. The method additionally includes selectively positioning the removed tray, utilizing the automated tray removal and positioning subsystem, such that selected ones of the small objects can be extracted from the removed object tray. Furthermore, the method includes selectively positioning a collection assembly of the automated small object sorting system, utilizing an automated collection assembly positioning subsystem of the automated small object sorting system, such that the selected one or more small objects extracted from the removed object tray can be deposited into a selected one or more of a plurality of object receptacles of the collection assembly. The method still further includes extracting the selected one or more small objects from the object tray and depositing each extracted small object into the selected one or more object receptacles utilizing an automated object extraction subsystem of the automated small object sorting system. Further yet, the method includes replacing the removed object tray into the object tray cart after the selected small objects have been extracted utilizing the automated tray removal and positioning subsystem.

In yet other embodiments, an exemplary seed sorting system includes a seed tray cart docking station that is structured and operable to receive and engage a seed tray cart to dock the seed tray cart within the seed tray cart docking station. The system additionally includes an automated tray removal and positioning subsystem that is structured and operable to remove a seed tray from the seed tray cart, wherein the seed tray including a plurality of wells and a plurality of seeds stored within the wells. The automated tray removal and positioning subsystem is further structured and operable to selectively position the removed tray such that selected ones of the seeds can be extracted from the removed seed tray, and replace the removed seed tray into the seed tray cart after the selected seeds have been extracted. Furthermore, the system includes an automated collection assembly positioning subsystem that is structured and operable to selectively position a collection assembly such that the selected one or more seeds extracted from the removed seed tray can be deposited into selected one or more of a plurality of seed receptacles of the collection assembly. The system still further includes an automated seed extraction subsystem that is structured and operable to extract the selected one or more seeds from the seed tray and deposit each extracted seed into the selected one or more seed receptacles. The system further yet includes a seed extraction verification assembly that is structured and operable to verify that the seed extraction subsystem extracted each of the selected seeds from the seed tray.

Further areas of applicability of the present teachings will become apparent from the description provided herein. It should be understood that the description and specific examples are intended for purposes of illustration only and are not intended to limit the scope of the present teachings.

DRAWINGS

The drawings described herein are for illustration purposes only and are not intended to limit the scope of the present teachings in any way.

FIG. 1A is an isometric view of a front side of an automated small object sorting system, in accordance with various embodiments of the present disclosure.

FIG. 1B is an isometric view of a back side of the automated small object sorting system shown in FIG. 1A, in accordance with various embodiments of the present disclosure.

FIG. 2A is an isometric view of the automated small object sorting system shown in FIGS. 1A and 1B, illustrating a small object tray cart docking station, in accordance with various embodiments of the present disclosure.

FIG. 2B is an isometric view of a front side of a small object tray cart structured to be docked within the docking station shown in FIG. 2A, in accordance with various embodiments of the present disclosure.

FIG. 2C is an isometric view of a back side of the small object tray cart shown in FIG. 2B, in accordance with various embodiments of the present disclosure.

FIG. 2D is an isometric view of a small object sorting tray structured to be stored in the small object tray cart shown in FIGS. 2B and 2C, and retain small objects sorted by the automated small object sorting system shown in FIGS. 1A and 1B, in accordance with various embodiments of the present disclosure.

FIG. 2E is an isometric view of the docking station shown in FIG. 2A having a small object tray cart docked therein, in accordance with various embodiments of the present disclosure.

FIG. 3A is an isometric view of a tray removal and positioning subsystem of the small object sorting shown in FIGS. 1A and 1B, in accordance with various embodiments of the present disclosure.

FIG. 3B is an isometric view of the tray removal and positioning subsystem shown in FIG. 3A illustrating a tray shuttle fixture, in accordance with various embodiments of the present disclosure.

FIG. 3C is an isometric view of the tray removal and positioning subsystem shown in FIG. 3A illustrating a tray lid removal assembly, in accordance with various embodiments of the present disclosure.

FIG. 4A is an isometric view of a collection assembly positioning subsystem and a small object extraction subsystem of the small object sorting shown in FIGS. 1A and 1B, in accordance with various embodiments of the present disclosure.

FIG. 4B is an isometric view of an object transfer subassembly of the small object extraction subsystem shown in FIG. 4A, in accordance with various embodiments of the present disclosure.

FIG. 4C is an isometric view of a nozzle head of the object transfer subassembly shown in FIG. 4B, in accordance with various embodiments of the present disclosure.

FIG. 4D is an isometric view of a nozzle head carriage of the object transfer subassembly shown in FIG. 4B, in accordance with various embodiments of the present disclosure.

FIG. 4E is an isometric view of a multi-receptacle planter-ready tray structured to be retained within a collection assembly of the small object sorting shown in FIGS. 1A and 1B, in accordance with various other embodiments.




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stats Patent Info
Application #
US 20160339481 A1
Publish Date
11/24/2016
Document #
15229321
File Date
08/05/2016
USPTO Class
Other USPTO Classes
International Class
/
Drawings
18


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20161124|20160339481|automated small object sorting systems and methods|In various embodiments, a small object sorting system includes an object tray cart docking station configured to dock an object tray cart here within. The system additionally includes an automated tray removal and positioning subsystem configured to remove an object tray from the object tray cart, selectively position the tray |Monsanto-Technology-Llc
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