Agriculture is ripe for automation, with constraints because of the manual labor, tightening restrictions on migrants, and disruptions from the novel coronavirus pandemic. Naïo Technologies SAS announced this week that it is continuing work on its Ted robot, which is designed to weed vineyards. The company said a new version of its viticulture robot is set to work for long-time partners Jas Hennessy & Co. and Bernard Magrez Grands Vignobles.
Founded by robotics engineers Gaëtan Séverac and Aymeric Barthes in 2011, Toulouse, France-based Naïo Technologies designs, manufacturers and markets agricultural robotics co-built with farmers and consumers. It said its weeding robots can compensate for the lack of an agricultural workforce, reduce the drudgery linked with some agricultural tasks, and limit the need for chemical inputs. To date, nearly 150 robots are in circulation worldwide, including Oz, designed for diversified market gardeners, Dino for weeding mound-grown vegetables, and Ted for wine growing.
Ted takes to the field
Naïo Technologies developed Ted three years ago and said it is the first autonomous, 100% electric high-clearance tool dedicated to the mechanical weeding of vines. The company added that the robot has generated strong interest from the wine-growing sector.
More than 20 Teds are now working in various vineyards. The robot can work autonomously among grape vines, and is designed to limit soil compaction. Naïo added that its electrical weeder is environmentally friendly because it reduces the need for chemical weed killers and reduces emissions.
Naïo, which closed Series A funding of €14 million ($15.53 million U.S.) in January 2020, said that its partners will help it improve Ted’s reliability, autonomy, and safety.
Partners in wine
Bernard Magrez and Hennessy will be the first to test the latest version of the Ted robot from July onward before its official launch planned for September.
“The Bernard Magrez Estate is convinced that robotization will play a fundamental role in the mechanical maintenance of the land over the next few decades,” stated Arnaud Delaherche, research and development manager of the Bernard Magrez Estate. “Electrical power, the absence of greenhouse gas emissions and noise pollution are the main focus of our commitment to the environment. In this, we have developed a four-year partnership with Naïo Technologies to perfect a robot capable of carrying out the majority of the soil maintenance work among the vines.”
“Within the context of its commitments on sustainable wine growing and to support its partner wine producers, the Hennessy company is testing many different solutions in its vineyards to promote more virtuous wine growing,” said Mathilde Boisseau, Hennessy vine and wine manager. “The R&D partnership project with Naïo Technologies is fully compatible with this approach. The development of the Ted robot is therefore an innovative alternative to the use of weedkillers. Its light weight and adaptability, as well as its electrical operation, are assets in view of the development of sustainable wine growing in the Charente region [in western France].”