No more tripping over tractors on steep vineyard hills
All members in this team love good wine. Maybe that’s why we work together in this FIE where we develop an autonomous mower for vineyards. Such a robot mower is a necessary solution because chopping and mulching between vine rows is an important task, but also a repetitive and monotonous one prone to mistakes. Instead, such activities have to be optimised so that vines do not compete for water and nutrients from the soil between themselves.
So far, mowing has been executed by tractors driven by farmers. However, the use of such large machines can damage the fragile vine plants, which creates financial losses for wine farmers. Furthermore, based on our personal experience, people working in the vineyards might trip over the tractors and fall down the steep hill slopes vineyards tend to be on. We want to prevent that with our FIE.
Creating a mower robot is a promising solution because it is cost-effective, can cope with rough terrain and does not require rest breaks. Moreover, the technology we use is similar to that of a common autonomous lawn mower. The difference between our robot and the common one is that ours possesses more advanced navigating skills to deal with a variety of terrains and execute its tasks with precision.
On a typical day, we start by running simulations with the Robotic Operation System in the morning. Afterwards, we go out in to the field with our mower prototype and laptops in order to test the navigation and obstacle detection system. We take stock of the day’s results and continue to improve the robot.
Being part of SmartAgriHubs has been fruitful for our FIE. Our Digital Innovation Hub connected us to a wine grower association with whom we can discuss the practical advantages our solution offers and demonstrate it to. Thanks to this, our mower robot will be as user-friendly as possible. Additionally, our Competence Centre actively supports our FIE by sharing their expertise in Mechatronics and ICT.
In the end, our FIE will deliver an autonomously driven robotic mower that keeps the mezzanine area cut short in fruit orchards and vineyards, and in no small part thanks to the SmartAgriHubs network we have been embedded in.