Dates are one of the most important crops in Saudi Arabia. Many of the cultural operations, and particularly harvesting, require the man to climb the tree and work at a considerable height above the ground. This is a dangerous and slow operation further compounded by a severe labour shortage. The functions required of a data palm service machine are dethorning, pollination, thinning, bagging, pruning, harvesting individual dates and whole bunches and spraying for insect control. In order to determine the size, reach and general physical requirements of a suitable machine a survey was carried out on 19 farms where nearly 1200 trees were measured. Ground profiles were also recorded to provide information on the required ground clearance and tyre size. From this information the specification for a machine was proposed which should be able to service trees in most of the situations encountered. A prototype machine is now being constructed and will be tested during 1988 in Saudi Arabia.