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Wall-Ye Robot Is In Your Vineyard, Prunin' Your Vines

A plucky French robot is ready to help out in your vineyard

2 min read
Wall-Ye Robot Is In Your Vineyard, Prunin' Your Vines

Ah, booze. The only thing it's (generally) missing is the sweet and vaguely servo-y taste of robotics. A little robot named Wall-Ye is trying to get involved in the process from the ground up by helping out in vineyards in France, meaning that we'll get to add "robotolicious" to the official list of wine descriptors.

Here's some video of Wall-Ye in action:

I don't think any robot without tank treads and a binocular head really deserves to be named after Wall-E (who you can still vote for to be inducted into the RHoF, by the way), but Wall-Ye is sort of charming I guess. It's got  two arms and six cameras, weighs 20 kilos, and can reportedly autonomously prune 600 vines per day, among other things, according to an AFP report:

Wall-Ye draws on tracking technology, artificial intelligence and mapping to move from vine to vine, recognise plant features, capture and record data, memorise each vine, synchronise six cameras and guide its arms to wield tools.

Yours for just $32,000.

Now, I don't want to be a Negative Nancy about this, and I do think that Wall-Ye would be great for monitoring vines, but I'm skeptical about the "prunes 600 vines per day" claim. In fact, I'm skeptical about the pruning period. To prune a vine, you first need a robot that can reach the vine (many if not most that I've seen are trellised fairly high up), and second, you need a fairly complex vision system to be able to map the vines in 3D with sufficient accuracy and precision to properly cut them. For reference, here's a vine pruning robot prototype from California-based Vision Robotics in operation:

As you can see, it's big (three meters tall), it's got long arms, it's got a total of eight high resolution cameras focused on the vines, and it generates a 3D model and then decides where to cut. I just don't see Wall-Ye being able to do anything like this at all. But again, Wall-Ye doesn't have to be a pruning robot, it would be quite valuable as a mobile monitoring system with the capability to measure temperature, moisture levels, soil PH, and (if you wanted to get fancy about it), even vigor levels and vine health with a hyperspectral sensor using technology that's being pioneered by a certain company that I may have worked for at one point. You know, just a helpful suggestion.

[ Wall-Ye ]  via [ AFP ]

Thanks Melissa!

The Conversation (0)

The Bionic-Hand Arms Race

The prosthetics industry is too focused on high-tech limbs that are complicated, costly, and often impractical

12 min read
A photograph of a young woman with brown eyes and neck length hair dyed rose gold sits at a white table. In one hand she holds a carbon fiber robotic arm and hand. Her other arm ends near her elbow. Her short sleeve shirt has a pattern on it of illustrated hands.

The author, Britt Young, holding her Ottobock bebionic bionic arm.

Gabriela Hasbun. Makeup: Maria Nguyen for MAC cosmetics; Hair: Joan Laqui for Living Proof

In Jules Verne’s 1865 novel From the Earth to the Moon, members of the fictitious Baltimore Gun Club, all disabled Civil War veterans, restlessly search for a new enemy to conquer. They had spent the war innovating new, deadlier weaponry. By the war’s end, with “not quite one arm between four persons, and exactly two legs between six,” these self-taught amputee-weaponsmiths decide to repurpose their skills toward a new projectile: a rocket ship.

The story of the Baltimore Gun Club propelling themselves to the moon is about the extraordinary masculine power of the veteran, who doesn’t simply “overcome” his disability; he derives power and ambition from it. Their “crutches, wooden legs, artificial arms, steel hooks, caoutchouc [rubber] jaws, silver craniums [and] platinum noses” don’t play leading roles in their personalities—they are merely tools on their bodies. These piecemeal men are unlikely crusaders of invention with an even more unlikely mission. And yet who better to design the next great leap in technology than men remade by technology themselves?

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