Producer of port Symington Family Estates has helped to trial a new robot which has been designed to monitor vines in areas where human labour is reduced.
The ‘VineScout’ is a co-operative effort between Spanish universities, Valencia and La Rioja, the Wall-YE Robots and Software company, France, UK-based Sundance Multiprocessor Technologies and Symington Family Estates.
The robot received further funding from Horizon 2020 under the European Union’s ‘Fast Track to Innovation’ scheme.
VineScout is designed to be autonomous and is capable of monitoring temperatures and collecting other readings in order to help viticulturists and winemakers manage vineyards.
It is intended that the robot will be deployed in areas where de-population of the countryside – as younger people move to cities – is making labour harder and more expensive to find.
The technology was field-tested at the historic Port producer’s Douro vineyards – Symington’s Quinta do Ataíde Grape Variety Project – at the end of August. The project co-ordinator, Francisco Rovira-Más, and Fernando Alves, the Symington viticulture R&D manager, reflected that they were satisfied with the results.
Symington is part of the five-member pan-European consortium which is developing the robot over a three-year period. The consortium intends to have the VineScout ready for series production from 2019-2020.