Robots at the service of viticulture


Domaine L&R Kox has been collaborating with Luxinnovation already for vaporisation of the vines. But the current research project aims to recognise plants and detect diseases.  (Photo: Edouard Gasche) 

A robot in the service of viticulture is good. But more robots coordinating with each other is even better. This is what has been guiding the European research and development project SESAME (for Secure and Safe Multi-Robot Systems) dedicated to the development of an interconnected robots platform.

Its mission ranges from disinfecting hospitals to maintaining power transmission facilities to managing farms and crops. This is why Domaine L&R Kox is involved in the pilot deployments of the new platform which aims specifically to continue the digital transformation of viticulture.

SnT, Luxsense also involved

Since 2019, the Moselle wine estate has collaborated with Luxaviation on a phytosanitary protection mission for the vines using a Chinese drone. In parallel with this ongoing alliance, a development stage with Swiss company Aero41 has been launched, alongside SnT and Luxsense.

"Modelling crop growth and detecting disease will be essential to make a significant contribution to environmental sustainability in viticulture," explains Corinne Kox, manager of the family estate and someone keen on technology. In addition to crop protection, the process aims to recognise plants and detect diseases.

Because if the Luxaviation drone was initially developed for rice fields, Aero41’s is suitable for viticulture. From early May to late July, sulfur and copper vaporisation is carried out every 5 to 9 days, depending on weather conditions and vegetative development, according to Corinne Kox.

Sesame is currently in a development phase (Photo: SnT) 

“We use drones equipped with various sensors to collect the high-resolution dataset that can be analysed using machine learning and artificial intelligence. This is how we detect disease hotspots in vineyards," explains Gilles Rock, manager of Luxsense geodata. The company, founded in 2015, provides expertise in high-resolution remote sensing and the collection and processing of 3D data and high-resolution images.

The research and development project amounting to €7m involves not only Aero41, Domaine L&R Kox, University of Luxembourg’s Interdisciplinary Centre for Security, Reliability and Trust (SnT) and Luxense with a consortium of universities, research institutes, and European industrial and governmental organisations.

Domaine L&R Kox produces around 100,000 bottles every year.

Learn more about the SnT and how Luxembourg is leading the way in innovation through a British Chamber of Commerce, SnT and Delano partnered event on 29 April. More information & registration here.

This article was originally published in French on Paperjam and has been translated and edited for Delano.