Between the 16th and 17th of September, FlexiGroBots partners involved within the Grapevines pilot, developed a first field test at the O Rosal vineyard from Terras Gauda winery in Spain, with the aim to identify the performance and potential value from using small unmanned ground vehicles (UGV’s) and drones to support the work carried out by grape pickers at the harvesting season.
The test involved the use of drones, which provided aerial images of the health status of the crops and grapevines, for timely detecting any diseases that might compromise the quality of the harvest. On the other side, mobile robots were supporting operators handpicking the grapes on the vineyard by transporting the boxes where grapes were deposited.
In next the tests, robots will be able to full autonomously transport the harvest towards the winery, avoiding the manual task of workers from loading the grapes and consequently reducing the amount of time for this operation. Moreover, the time reduction will contribute to the increment of the quality of the product.
Moreover, it is planned the use of ground robots to detect affected grapes and apply precision phytosanitary treatments. Ground robots will be equipped with sensors and AI algorithms will be programmed to autonomously go to the potentially Botritys affected areas established from images received from the drones. In these areas, the ground robots will perform precision and located treatment by a prior detection of the grapes affected by Botrytis.
The partners involved in this test were: Emilio Rodríguez Canas, oenological director from the winery Terras Gauda; Angela Ribeiro, a scientific researcher in UGVs, Robotics, and Artificial Intelligence at the CSIC (Automation and Robotics Centre); João Valente, assistant professor in UAVs, Robotics and Artificial Intelligence at the University of Wageningen; and Sergio Álvarez, Spanish Pilot Coordinator and Project Manager in Seresco's Consulting and Software department.
“The first field tests have been a resounding success, the ground robots have worked in coordination with the grape pickers in an agile and safe way, and the drones have collected highly valuable information to implement the disease detection algorithms.” - Sergio Alvarez