One wouldn’t normally make a connection between wineries and robots, but that is just what a university current project in California has combined.

Stefano Carpin is a Electrical Engineering and Computer Science professor at University of California, Merced. His team, comprising researchers from UC-Merced, Davis, and Berkeley, have developed a robotic system to help vintners manage their water systems, and implement precision irrigation across the vineyard, dubbed RAPID (Robot-Assisted Precision Irrigation Delivery).

By replacing the existing system with low-cost, plastic emitters that control the water flow, Stefano’s team can send a Husky UGV to adjust them, and change the amount of water each plant area is receiving.

That way, rather than every plant receiving the same amount of water, which can lead to over or under-watering depending on conditions, the grape plants enjoy the benefits of precision agriculture, and receive the exact amount of water they need.

Integrating additional sensors, like GPS, on the Husky will allow the robot to map its route, and adding an RFID reader will enable autonomous movement of the Husky to a specific emitter that needs adjusting.

This multi-year project is part of the National Robotics Initiative from the National Science Foundation, and received nearly $1M from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Stefano and the RAPID team will be presenting the project next month in Brisbane, Australia at the 2018 International Conference on Robotics and Automation. If you’re planning to attend the conference, please listen to their talk, and come visit Clearpath, who will be exhibiting at booth #43.

To read an extended post about the project, take a look at the IEEE article about it here.

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