Intervitis, Interfructa, Hortitechnica: Future technologies in viticulture and pomiculture

From 27 to 30 November, the Intervitis, Interfructa, Hortitechnica, a major trade fair for wine, juice and special cultures took place on the grounds of the Landesmesse Stuttgart. In addition to the latest developments in cultivation and harvesting technology, innovations in the areas of handling, process control, marketing and architecture were also presented. Therefore, a good overview above the entire process chain from cultivation to marketing was provided. Members of Robot Makers GmbH were also on the road during the four exhibition days, both as exhibitors and visitors.

Together with the company NIKO Maschinenbau, we presented at the Intervitis, Interfructa, Hortitechnica 2016 a tracked vehicle, which is able to move completely independently in vineyards and orchards, for the first time. Through the use of various technologies from the development platform of the Robot Makers GmbH, the vehicle is able to recognize the row of plants with the help of ambient environmental sensors and go through it independently. Furthermore, the vehicle is able to turn independently at the end of the row and move into the next row. This allows complete plantations to be processed autonomously. In contrast to other systems on the market, the machine doesn’t use the high-precision RTK-GPS. Most of the data used for navigation is provided by the “eyes” of the vehicle, so-called ambient environmental sensors.

By eliminating the necessity of the highly accurate RTK-GPS signal, the system achieves greater robustness against signal fluctuations caused by shading (e.g. because of trees or precipices) and weather phenomena. In addition, the position offset arising by the slippage of the crawler while the transposition maneuver can be counterbalanced. This offset forces today’s systems, which are based on precisely predefined tracks, to come to a standstill.

The trade fair was primarily used to capture initial user reactions and to discuss further use cases. In this way, helpful information and insights could be gained, which can now be used for the further development of the system.

In addition to the presence on the booth of our partner, our employees were also visiting the exhibition ground to inform about the latest developments, meet partners and customers, or to exchange ideas with the end user. Very interesting was the demonstration of the robots and drones, which gradually take over certain tasks in viti- and pomiculture and thereby relieve the farmer. To get a short overview of the exhibited technologies, we have compiled a short video with impressions from Hall 1. Have fun watching!

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