Land Robots announces AI robot project in support of UK’s wine industry

A consortium led by Land Robots Ltd, including the Viticulture Research Group at NIAB EMR and specialist Artificial Intelligence (AI) company SkyEngine, has announced its first funded project in support of the UK’s wine industry.

Land Robots believe that robots will play an increasingly important role in all areas of farming and horticulture as they become ever more skillful and cost effective. Key to developing practical and useful robot systems is the Artificial Intelligence that underpins them and, in turn, the requirement to run many millions of simulations to train the robots about the world they need to operate in, as it grows and changes.

Robert Patten from Land Robots explains: “We have brought together the first members of an engineering led consortium that will design, build and ‘teach’ a series of robots in support of initially the viticulture sector in the UK, but latterly all orchard crops. Using advanced modelling tools we have constructed a remarkably detailed vineyard training world for our AI tools to explore and learn.”

Land Robots’ first practical project will be the development of a free flying drone, that with out the use of GPS, will recognise any vineyard and autonomously map the vines using a high definition camera. With the environment mapped the consortia will seek to programme flight paths of the drones to map the chronology of the vines and to identify early signs of disease, or nutrient deficiencies, and report these directly to the vineyard manager.

Julien LeCourt from NIAB EMR commented: “The UK has seen a significant increase in vineyard development including large investment from established French brands in recent years. The sector has pioneered the use of robotics in certain areas of the world, for vine monitoring and maintenance but many of these systems are purely academic projects. The consortium we have gathered is aimed at delivering practical ‘value engineered’ robotics solution to support the sector to increase wine quality and lower both the application of chemical pesticides and clearly costs.”

With the core artificial ‘engines’ programmed using both computer simulation and vineyard trials, Land Robots will use these ‘trained’ algorithms to drive practical un-manned autonomous vehicles (UAV) to undertake duties in vineyards including mowing, precision pesticide placement and to support picking and pruning.

The consortium seeks to extend its collaboration in the UK vineyard sector in support of its trials and advisory board.

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