Future of vineyard tech on display in the Barossa

Photo and words Harrison Davies

Autonomous vehicles and drones were on display at Jacob’s Creek for an autonomous tractor demo day held by the AWRI yesterday.

The technology on display is being explored and spearheaded by AWRI principle engineer Simon Nordestgaard and followed a similar demonstration day held a year ago.

The forefront of the event was the GoTrack system – a tool that connects to tractors and remembers a previously driven route, allowing tractors to complete spraying and weeding tasks without a driver.

The technology has seen development since last year and Nordestgaard now has a better understanding of which attachments work best with the system.

He explained that the technology had been conditioned to complete long tasks and tractors set up with the GoTrack system had been in Pernod Ricard vineyards in Langhorne Creek for periods as long as 13 hours completing tasks.

“We know what types of weeders and sprayers work best with the GoTrack system and we also know that it still has its limitations,” Nordestgaard said.

Also on display was the autonomous drone sprayer from WSB Distributors, autonomous spraying robots from GUSS and SITIA as well as an off grid autonomous mower.

“A lot of this technology can be adopted by producers right now,” Nordestgaard continued.

“A lot of the controls are in to fit with existing vineyards without other changes.

“There are a few bits and pieces around the edges of the technology that still need tightening, like some of the obstacle detection and the feedback implements to allow jobs that the operator might complete whilst driving the tractor themselves.

“It’s still for early adopters, but there is definitely a place in the industry for this technology.”


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