If you needed any more proof that drones are slowly but surely infiltrating the world around us, look no further than the vineyards of the world, where our little robotic friends are revolutionising the world of precision viticulture.
Winemaking is a curious business – at the same time incredibly conservative and quite willing to take on new technology. Admittedly, the push for modernisation is more centred around the US and Australia, but even in the more traditional wine regions of Spain, technology is starting to play a big part.
According to Prof David Green, a specialist in the subject who’s been at it since the ’80s, the first step for any wannabe precision viticulturalist (PV) is getting aerial images of the vineyard. Nowadays, this is done with a super-simple Parrot AR Drone (check out our review here) and an iPad, so even the most technophobic French farmer could conceivably manage a lap of his estate. Once you have the aerial images, they’re loaded into custom software and compiled side-by-side with all sorts of stuff like soil sample data and hyperspectral imagery. This then allows GPS-enabled robots like this to wander around the vineyard harvesting your crops for you.
All this should mean more consistent, better quality and hopefully cheaper wine, which I guess is a good thing. So, all’s looking rosy (or should that be rosé?) for the wine industry and drones – just as long as all the robots don’t decide to get drunk, that is – Terminator’s scary enough without all the machines being pissed as well. [BBC]