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Bringing robotics into wine making

New Queen Mary partnership with Extend Robotics and Saffron Grange vineyard seeks to revolutionise how high value crops are grown.

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Winegrowing is Britain’s fastest growing agricultural sector. The task of pruning and harvesting grapes, and indeed other high value crops like berries and other fruits, demands skill and dexterity. The work is intensive and has historically relied heavily upon seasonal workers. 

This new research project, a three-year partnership between Queen Mary University of London, Extend Robotics, and East Anglia-based vineyard Saffron Grange, seeks to develop cloud-connected AI components that will enable the robotic automation of general tasks such as pruning and harvesting the grapes.

Our partner, Extend Robotics, is a UK-based start-up specialising in virtual reality-based teleoperation systems for remote manipulation of robots. Their expertise in precision manipulation and perception systems is essential to developing modular robotic hardware systems with human equivalent manipulation robotic arms and cameras. 

Meanwhile, our scientists at Queen Mary are bringing their expertise in remote sensing and image spectral analysis which is critical to the project's success.

Dr Ketao Zhang, Senior Lecturer in Robotics at Queen Mary, comments, 

“We’re delighted to be partnering with Extend Robotics and Saffron Grange to bring high tech robotics into wine growing. Our technology will allow growers to remotely monitor crop health, identify potential issues early on, and take appropriate action, resulting in better overall crop quality and higher yields. The precision manipulation and perception system with a virtual reality interface will enable growers to perform tasks such as pruning and harvesting more efficiently and accurately, reducing labour costs, emissions, and reliance on seasonal migration. The cloud-connected AI components will help to automate general tasks to improve efficiency.”

Dr Lei Su, Reader in Photonics at Queen Mary, comments,

“We are very excited about exploring our AI based optical imaging and analysis technology in agriculture. We expect this not only to transform the future harvesting practice in vineyards, but also to provide the best quality grapes for making high-quality wines.”

We believe this innovative technology will bring significant benefits to the British viticulture industry, making it more competitive and sustainable, while also contributing to the growth of the UK economy and providing a competitive edge in the global wine market.

Learn more about partnering with Queen Mary.

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