A vineyard robot has undergone successful trials in Portugal’s Douro Valley as part of a €2m project involving Port and Douro wine producer Symington Family Estates.
The VineScout robot – which is used to monitor the vines – involves Symington, Spanish universities Valencia and La Rioja, Wall-YE Robots & Software from France and UK-based Sundance Microprocessor Technologies.
The initiative, which started in December last year, resulted in a week-long trial in the Symingtons’ Quinta do Ataíde vineyard at the end of August. The robot will now proceed to ‘the next stage of development’, Symington Family Estates said.
The trial also included an ‘Agronomy Day’ at Ataíde attended by other Douro wine producers, universities, tech start-ups and research institutes.
The European Union has funded €1.7m of VineScout’s €2m investment through its H2O2O ‘Fast Track to Innovation Pilot’, with the aim of developing an affordable and reliable vineyard robot.
The broader objective is to improve the viticulture of the Douro and other European wine regions, while addressing the issue of labour shortages as people move to cities or emigrate abroad.
In April, the Symington Family Estates announced it had expanded to the Alentejo.