Wine Robot - the end of the Vigneron?

This little chap, known as Wall-Ye V.I.N., might look adorable, but he means business. With four wheels, two arms, six cameras, and on-board GPS, he’s capable of pruning 600 vines a day in order to help make the wine you swill every evening.

Developed in—surprise, surprise—France, Wall-Ye is designed to take on the more menial chores a vineyard has to offer: namely pruning vines and removing unproductive young shoots. At the same time, though, he's capable of collecting data as he trundles around, keeping an eye on soil conditions and the state of the vines.

Its AI brain, far from booze-sozzled, allows it to gradually create an accurate map of the vineyard, learning as it goes, and its cameras mean it can recognize plant features. All-told, it looks like it could replace vineyard workers if they're not careful.

Indeed, the robot is about to be trialled at Bordeaux's Chateau Mouton-Rothschild—probably the most exclusive vineyard in the world. If that' goes well, it could well seal Wall-Ye's fate. Something better had, at any rate, because otherwise the $32,000 (25,000 euro) price tag will no doubt deter many a wine producer. [Wall-Ye via AFP via Verge]

Have you seen one near you yet?

Glad you agree, Brian. You and others may have seen this BBC documentary "A Farm for the Future" made by wildlife photographer Rebecca Hoskings about the challenges her family farm in Devon will face in the future. It bears viewing again as it's such a pleasure to watch and an eye-opener for those who haven't yet seen it or are not aware of the difficulties ahead and the possibilities of changing the way we farm and provide food. Hope the link works!

Must agree.

I don't know anything about the grapevine pruner, just that it's normally a job that requires knowledge and precision, depending on what you want your vines to do. I'll be amazed if it can successfully replace experienced vine pruners. I hope it can't!

The use of heavy tractors and other agricultural machines spreading artificial fertilisers, peticides and herbicides onto huge fields or moncrops have successfully nearly annihilated plant, wildlife and food diversity. These heavy machines have compacted the soil and artificial fertilisers have killed off worms and microlife in the soil. Even in France most topsoil is not nourished by natural manures and woodland and plants that grow on it and the animals that graze on it do not provide us with the nutrients we had in our food in bygone times.

Mechanisation and chemicals have also lead to the breakdown of communities in the countryside. Gone are the days when farmers practised multi-culture, saved their seeds and called on their neighbours to help with the harvest, feeding them an excellent lunch and dinner for their work and then going to help their neighbours in return. You may call that drudgery but I think we have lost the ethos of a good day's hard work helping others and being helped in return.

Now that we have such advantages as the internet, I don't see why we can't have more natural faming practices involving much more manpower and giving us nutrient-rich food, wildlife diversity, a more beautiful countryside, better conditions for farm animals, inter-dependent local communities.

It's not tractors or other machines we need, especially now in this time of economic stagnation. What we need now is more employment, better food for all, excellent communication, education and culture and time off to enjoy it. We can have it, if we want it enough.

A lot of people lost their jobs when the tractor was invented ... but that still didn't stop tractors from liberating millions of farm workers from drudgery...

Read an article on this waiting to see my physio last week. The development took several years and the investment was big, especially creating an environment for trials. It seems that the price label will go down if it is a success and goes into production, especially with export orders. It may mean a lot of people losing the work the rely on each autumn.

It looks big on the photos, but in this video you can see that it's quite small actually, and the wheel-base is very reasonable.

Got a 15,000 euro once off own invention going on in my vigneyards. Works like a charm but has a more rustic look. Does the job of 6 experienced human harvesters..... But hey, I don't need a mix of Porsche/ Dyson design amongst my vines to get basically the same results LOL

BTW, the wheel-base of this WY does look far to large for any BDX vineyard......