Australian-first trial of robotic tractor underway at Duxton Vineyards

OXIN by Smart Machine. Image courtesy Wine Australia

The world’s first fully autonomous, multi-tasking robotic vineyard tractor is currently being trialled in Australia for the first time, following trials in its home market of New Zealand. The OXIN trial is currently underway at Duxton Vineyards’ 900ha Euston vineyard located near Balranald and Robinvale, and will continue into 2024.

Supported by Wine Australia’s agtech innovation program, the trial will put OXIN to the test under Australian conditions at Duxton’s Euston vineyard, with the technology providing valuable insights into vineyard operations through advanced data analysis.

Duxton Vineyards’ general manager Wayne Ellis said that the partnership aligned with Duxton’s goal to employ technology that has a positive effect on the environment.

“By being the first local wine producer to trial the OXIN by Smart Machine, we are continuing our sustainability journey and doing our part to evolve farming and viticulture practices in Australia,” said Ellis.

Designed by Smart Machine engineer Walter Langlois and product designers Andrew Kersley and Nick Gledhill, the fully autonomous robotic vineyard tractor can complete multiple tasks such as mowing, mulching and trimming, as well as weed and canopy spraying with the aid of robotics and artificial intelligence – all while being managed by a single operator via user-friendly tablet software. OXIN is designed to improve precision, efficiency and safety, as well as minimising environmental impact. The technology is also intended to complement the existing workforce by enabling the vineyard team to focus on higher value tasks.

Smart Machine CEO Andrew Kersley was enthusiastic about the first trial in the Australian market, and emphasised that the collaboration was an excellent opportunity to showcase the technology.

“This partnership presents an opportunity to showcase OXIN’s capabilities and how it can revolutionise the way that we approach viticulture. The OXIN machine being trialled by Duxton Vineyards has been designed to do different tasks to the original machines developed for the NZ market, accommodating for the differences in landscape and climate, which is also really exciting.”

Dave Gerner, program manager, Regional Innovation at Wine Australia was also positive about the trial, noting that Wine Australia was “delighted” to be involved.

“With a key focus on investing in research and innovation for the local wine sector, Wine Australia is delighted to be a part of the OXIN trial in partnership with Duxton Vineyards. By contributing to the exploration of new technologies, we are further advancing our mission to keep Australia’s wine business both profitable and sustainable. We look forward to reviewing the results of the trial and how Smart Machine’s technology will be of benefit to further producers across Australia’s wine regions.”

In addition to benefits such as reduced costs and data analysis to inform operational decisions, OXIN promotes sustainable solutions, with the machine requiring fewer row passes, making less soil compaction and demonstrating an overall reduction in emissions.

Are you a Daily Wine News subscriber? If not, click here to join our mailing list. It’s free!