Traditionally, European vineyards have not been driven by technology. Since ancient Romans, the human eye has been almost the only 'sensor' that has steered vineyard management providing a subjective evaluation on yield, vegetative growth and plant status.
"Forefront viticulture practice requires objective and continuous monitoring of key parameters for rational decision-making."
The remarkable development of new technologies—and the growing demand for greater competitiveness and sustainability—has led to a great interest in precision viticulture. It advocates a differentiated agronomic approach to vineyard management based on the spatial-temporal variability of vegetative development, production and quality of the vineyards.
Consequently, forefront viticulture practice requires objective and continuous monitoring of key parameters for rational decision-making, which only becomes useful if new technologies and advanced sensors are applied to vineyards. For these and other reasons the VineRobot project emerges.
"VineRobot covers the integral monitoring of vineyards over the entire season by placing a ground robot along the vineyards."
It proposes the design, development and deployment of a novel use-case agricultural robot under the scope of unmanned ground vehicles (UGV), and equipped with several non-invasive sensing technologies to monitor the following parameters:
The use of the VineRobot to monitor vineyard status and grape composition has several advantages over simple hand-held devices for manual sampling and over unmanned aerial vehicles. The VineRobot may provide key information regarding vineyard parameters much faster than manual solutions and at higher resolution, in a more flexible manner and with lower costs than aerial scouting technology carried out by drones or planes.
Final users will receive updated information concerning their vineyard status through an apps application (mobile, tablet, computer), as simple maps. The proposed agricultural robot will allow for revolutionary and conclusive decision-making to optimize vineyard management and to drive agronomical fundamental decisions according to grape yield estimation, plant growth monitoring, water status and berry composition assessment.