An Agricultural Research Service scientist has developed a patented machine vision system for automating cotton gins that is now being manufactured commercially. The system uses color video cameras for a hands-off monitoring of the “on-the-fly” flow of cotton and attendant debris through the many machines that make up a modern cotton gin.

Mathew G. Pelletier, an agricultural engineer with the ARS Cotton Production and Processing Research Unit in Lubbock, Texas, invented the system. Its real-time monitoring of “trash” content will enable cotton ginners to move closer to an automated system that seems inevitable in the near future. It can advise ginners or automatically turn cleaners on and off, depending on trash content.