Although mechanization has lowered management costs and precision viticulture is shyly bursting, selective practices still require time-consuming manual operations. This project, namely VINUM-ROBOT (2017-2022) tackles the emerging challenge of the dramatic shortage in skilled labor and lower grape price using robotic solutions. Robots are a revolutionary upscaling in the Agri-Food sector for their precision and efficiency. The main goal of this project is to develop and test innovative robotic mobile manipulation technologies for grapevine winter pruning automation. Deep learning processes and pruning skills will be merged into a robot with advanced control capabilities. Multi-modal sensing system, in particular stereo vision, will be developed and integrated to a full torque controled robotic manipulator for grapevine recognition, manipulation, and pruning. This robotic arm will be mounted on a legged locomotion platform forming a mobile manipulator prototype that will be demonstrated in comparison with hand pruning in vineyard. Robot manipulation performance as pruning efficiency, locomotion as related to different terrain as well as vine growth features the following season will be assessed. Impacts of the project embrace the still unreached goal of selective and fully automation of winter pruning.
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