Treasury Wine Estates (TWE) is set to use robots in a trial to improve autonomous crop spraying and optimise yield prediction in its vineyards.
The research and development project will see TWE join forces with The Yield Technology Solutions (The Yield) and Yamaha Motor Co (YMC). The plan is to improve harvest prediction accuracy by gathering growth stage data through visual data collection.
The trial also hopes to test and develop emerging autonomous robot technology, which optimises spray effectiveness by integrating weather data and spray guidelines to maximise spray efficiency.
Greg Pearce, TWE General Manager Company Vineyards, said: “As custodian of some of the world’s most iconic wine brands and with a large global agricultural footprint, TWE is committed to taking an integrated approach to sustainability to manage risks and make the most of new, emerging opportunities.
“TWE is focused on cultivating a brighter future for everyone who touches our business and products, and this includes investing in new technology and innovations to adapt to the climate trends impacting our business.”
The trial will start in TWE vineyards in Australia later this year and the West Coast of the US from early next year. It will bring together YMC’s robotics platform with The Yield’s microclimate, software, analytics, and AI platform.
“TWE is proud of our ongoing partnership with The Yield to improve the predictability of weather and climate, crop yield, harvest timing and fruit grading – all critical drivers of wine quality,” Pearce said.
“This latest industry-leading collaboration brings together our viticulture and winemaking expertise with world class robotics and automation to enable us to better predict optimal harvest opportunities and efficiently irrigate our vineyards.”
Ros Harvey, Founder and Managing Director of The Yield added: “We know from customers in Australia that we can double the effective spray windows for robots using our patented microclimate and growth stage predictions.
“This improves robotic spray efficiency and effectiveness whilst improving environmental performance. At the same time, the robots can passively collect visual data that we can feed back into our algorithms to continually improve them. It’s a win win.”
During the 18-month project, The Yield and YMC will negotiate commercial arrangements to bring a joint solution for intensive irrigated crops to international markets in early 2023.