VineRobot, an Unmanned ground vehicle equipped with non-invasive sensor technology to monitor grape growth

Just like great wine needs time, great grapes require continuous attention and reliable assessment tools. Noting the absence of a convincing alternative to manual sampling and analysis, an EU-funded consortium has developed VineRobot, an ‘Unmanned ground vehicle’ (UGV) equipped with non-invasive sensor technology.

Interview with Dr Javier Tardaguila

Today, assessing the readiness of vine grapes for harvesting requires growers to sample hundreds of berries, with their eyes as the only tool they can rely on.

With VINEROBOT’s (VINEyardROBOT) technology, they can now look forward to the day when this tiresome work will be facilitated by a robot able to estimate future grape yield, monitor plant growth, as well as assess water status and berry composition, with all that information being made available on their smartphone or tablet.

Now with its second prototype, the VINEROBOT team has recently been granted a six-month project extension to complete its work. Dr Javier Tardaguila, coordinator of the project, discusses the benefits of this technology and his hopes for great success within the wine grower community.

What are the benefits of VINEROBOT’s approach compared to alternatives?

Recently, various remote sensing solutions from aerial platforms or satellites have been enhanced with simultaneous acquisition of spectral information in the visible and infrared ranges, allowing for the assessment of grapevine vigour and water status. But the small spatial resolution of multispectral devices, the discrete architecture of grapevine cultivation in rows rather than bulk crop, limited weather flexibility and the elevated cost of aerial monitoring, are major drawbacks which have forced small and medium-sized European vineyards to discard remote sensing altogether.

VINEROBOT is a promising alternative: It will provide reliable information using proximal sensors on-the-go in a non-invasive way, in different types of soils, and in a more cost-effective process that can be used across a wide range of vineyards.

What would you say are the most innovative aspects of VINEROBOT’s UGV?

Rational decision-making in sustainable viticulture requires objective and continuous key parameter monitoring by means of advanced technologies and sensors in the field. But currently there are no commercial products that can simultaneously map key parameters such as agronomical, physiological and fruit composition on-the-go. Data sampling is being carried out manually, which implies high costs and low resolution, and is usually influenced by the interpretation of the person involved. 

By designing, developing and deploying an agricultural robot in the shape of a UGV, and equipping this robot with several non-invasive sensing technologies to monitor the likes of grapevines’ vegetative growth, nutritional status and grape composition, VINEROBOT aims to bridge this gap. Our goal is to optimise vineyard management, as well as improve grape composition and wine quality. 

Photo: VineRobot (credit: VineRobot Project)

Photo: VineRobot (credit: VineRobot Project)

What tasks can this robot perform?

The VineRobot is equipped with non-invasive advanced sensors and artificial intelligence systems, to provide reliable, fast and objective information on the state of the vineyards to grape growers. Thanks to these technologies, VineRobot will be able to work — that is, retrieving agronomical and physiological data from the grapevines — autonomously and safely over long periods of time under the uncertain environmental conditions typically found in vineyards.

The first version of the VineRobot incorporates a fluorescence-based sensor to assess nitrogen content in leaves. The measurement is performed on-the-go and provides information about the heterogeneity and state of the vineyard. 
The other sensor included in the VineRobot measures the anthocyanin content in grapes. This sensor is a fusion between a fluorescence sensor and a fine vision system: It gathers information about the composition of grape berries.

A second version of the VineRobot is already foreseen. It is expected to include two additional sensors: one for yield assessment and one to control vineyard water status.

What has been the sector’s feedback so far?

Grape growers that have seen the VineRobot have shown a high level of interest, especially young grape growers (younger than 45 years of age), because they are often more open-minded regarding new technologies. 

However, in the long term it is expected that older viticulturists will also consider using our robot, once they witness the good results brought in other vineyards.

What can they expect in terms of concrete benefits?

The VineRobot works alone, without the need for any human presence. Moreover, working speed can be adjusted depending on the size of the vineyard, so that the robot can obtain information about the whole vineyard easily and in a short period of time, whilst providing useful maps to vine growers. 

These maps of wine parameters can help them with how to best treat the crop. For example, they can plan for a more precise mechanical harvesting or fertilisation, which will have a huge influence on the yield and the wine’s quality.

When do you expect your solutions to be commercialised?

We are still developing and completing the VineRobot, improving its latest version. We don’t really know when it will be ready, but we expect that the product could be commercialised next year.

Source: Cordis

Read more


No comments to display.

Related posts

Hadron Therapy Industry 2019-2025: Global Size, Share, Emerging Trends, Demand, Revenue and Forecasts Research

Hadron Therapy Industry 2019 Global Market research report studies latest Hadron Therapy industry aspects market size, share, trends, growth, business overview and Hadron Therapy industry scenario during the forecast period (2019-2025).

Acid Catalysts Industry 2019: Global Market Size, Growth, Share, Insights, Supply, Drivers, Demand, Outlook, Trends and Forecasts 2025

A latest report has been added to the wide database of Orian Research Consultant titled “Global Acid Catalysts Market Research Report (2025)” which provides an outlook of current market value, Size, Share, Growth, Trends and Forecast.
3 days ago

Continuous Renal Replacement Therapy Industry 2019 Global Market Size, Share, Growth, Sales and Drivers Analysis Research Report 2025

Continuous Renal Replacement Therapy Industry 2019 Global Market Research report provides information regarding market size, share, trends, growth, cost structure, capacity, and revenue and forecast 2025.

Black Pellets Industry 2019 Global Market Size, Outlook, Demand, Key Manufacturers and 2025 Forecast

A recent market report published on the “Black Pellets Industry” presents an in-depth overview of the Black Pellets industry. Global Black Pellets market research report covers the overview, summary, Black Pellets market dynamics, competitive analysis, and leading player’s various strategies to sustain in the global market. Apart from this, the Black Pellets report also covers detail information about various clients which is the most significant element for the manufacturers.
3 days ago

Call for Applications: Startup World Cup 2019

Startup World Cup ("SWC") offers innovation and entrepreneurship opportunities for startup ecosystems around the world. This platform consists of a global series of startup conferences and competitions that bring together phenomenal startups, VCs, and world-class tech CEOs.
Application Deadline in 2 months

EU Call for Proposals: Information and promotion about the sustainable aspect of rice production

The objective is to highlight the sustainable aspect of rice sector. Rice production in Europe has a particular environmental dimension, being at the heart of the preservation of certain wetlands. Rice cultivation is a sensitive and specific practice at European level, since it is produced in areas where there are few crop alternatives. Its preservation and improvement contribute to the sustainability of rice producing regions, by playing an active role in maintaining rural areas, protecting nature and preserving biodiversity. Actions shall highlight the environmental sustainability of the production, stressing its beneficial role for climate action and the environment.
Application Deadline in 22 days

A low-cost and open-source platform for automated imaging

Remote monitoring of plants using hyperspectral imaging has become an important tool for the study of plant growth, development, and physiology. Many applications are oriented towards use in field environments to enable non-destructive analysis of crop responses due to factors such as drought, nutrient deficiency, and disease, e.g., using tram, drone, or airplane mounted instruments.

Can developing nations compete in a digital world?

People want in on e-commerce for simple reasons - choice, ease, speed, cost, convenience. Yet not everyone benefits equally, especially in least developed countries.