VineScout robot very precisely monitors vineyards

27-11-2020 | |
VineScout robot very precisely monitors vineyards
VineScout robot very precisely monitors vineyards

VineScout is a ground robot for vineyard monitoring and management. The robot moves through vineyards autonomously and produces maps of relevant production parameters such as water status and vine vigour.

The VineScout robot carries an ambient sensor used for measuring temperature, pressure, and relative humidity, as well as 3 crop sensors for measuring NDVI, PRI, and canopy temperature. The data are processed by a model that generates maps for vine growers and wine producers to make decisions on irrigation or harvesting.

Inventor Francisco Rovira-Más developed the robot in cooperation with the Agricultural Robotics Laboratory (Polytechnic University of Valencia, Spain). According to the inventors, the robot works without problems in the test phase and is now ready to move on to the production phase.

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The VineScout is packed in a white-coloured ruggedized package on 4 wheels. - Photo: VineScout

The VineScout is packed in a white-coloured ruggedized package on 4 wheels. – Photo: VineScout

2 rows at a time

The robot is powered by Li-ion batteries and is designed to monitor 2 rows (1 canopy side) at a time. According to the inventors, it navigates autonomously when the following requirements are met: the crop vineyard structure (vertical trellis); the row-spacing (1.8 to 3 metres, canopy trimmed); the headland clearance (5 metres) and the maximum height of cover crop ( 0.5 metre).

Autonomous navigation is then achieved by fusing real-time data fed by a time-of-flight 3D sensor, a lidar, and 4 ultrasonic sensors. These perception sensors also assist in safeguarding tasks to stop the robot.

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  • With lighting, the robot can also do its work in the dark. - Photo: VineScout

    With lighting, the robot can also do its work in the dark. – Photo: VineScout

  • Control console with touchscreen monitor, joystick, status lights, and operational buttons. - Photo: VineScout

    Control console with touchscreen monitor, joystick, status lights, and operational buttons. – Photo: VineScout

Artificial intelligence and easy interface

The gathering of data starts when the DATA and the AUT (automatic engagement) buttons are selected on the control screen. The robot starts traveling along the vineyard rows while recording data. The mapping mission may be stopped any time by disengaging the AUT tab or when the selected rows are completed. Data (consisting of files and maps) are retrieved through a USB port.

The developers believe that the intelligent way in which the robot processes all data with artificial intelligence combined with the easy interface and handling sets the robot apart on the market. Additionally, the platform can be adapted to suit other crops.

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Ambient and crop sensors are shown here on the side of the console. - Photo: VineScout

Ambient and crop sensors are shown here on the side of the console. – Photo: VineScout

Zero emissions

The system requires no satellite signal to navigate and works autonomously and electrically, boasting zero emissions. All of these qualities are packed into a ruggedized design for off-road use.


Watch the robot drive through the vineyard

Hekkert
Geert Hekkert Chief editor of Future Farming