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Vine Pruning Robots In New Zealand

A vine-pruning robot that could save New Zealand's vineyards as much as $27.5 million per year is under development at the University of Canterbury. Dr Richard Green leads the team developing an intelligent vision-based pruning system.

“Such a fast vision-based pruning system is only possible using recently developed camera technology with efficient cutting edge computer vision-based tracking and AI algorithms,” said Dr Green. “We are leading the world with fast accurate colour 3D depth maps of vines, light robot cutting arms and the AI to coordinate this moving at walking speed. Not only can a higher quality be maintained by pruning consistently and accurately while recognising disease and age of vines, but the industry will be able to guarantee pruning within the very brief seasonal window each year.”

The robotic technology will use artificial intelligence to recognise plant features and synchronise multiple cameras and high-speed robot arm pruners with immediate application to vine pruning and a longer-term broader application to general harvesting and pruning in the agriculture industry.

“This is not just an excuse to combine drinking wine with research, but our internationally renowned interdisciplinary research team is looking forward to confirming the quality of the results of the vine-pruning robot,” Dr Green said.

SF writers were also interested in the idea of robotic agriculture. Philip K. Dick thought about autonomic plows in his 1964 novel Clans of the Alphane Moon. Dick also mentioned a robot gardener in his 1955 short story War Veteran.

Fans of the 1972 movie Silent Running will also remember that Bruce Dern took tended his garden with the help of robots.


(Gardening robots from Silent Running)

Via Canterbury College News.

Scroll down for more stories in the same category. (Story submitted 8/8/2010)

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