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Bordeaux: pilotless drones to monitor vines

A helicopter drone that offers another high-tech way to monitor the condition of grapes and vines has been developed in Bordeaux.

First tested at Chateau Luchey-Halde in Pessac-Léognan, the Scancopter 450 drone has been developed by aeronautical company Fly-n-sense and is capable of hovering as low as 1cm off the ground, or as high as 260m.

It can fly up to 70 km/hour, or remain static for long periods while any readings or images are taken. The drone is fully automatic: its GPS system allows to take off and land independently.

Using technology developed by the military, the drone can take more sophisticated readings than current satellite imagery, and can be equipped with a variety of cameras to check maturity, water stress, efficiency of treatments and a number of other readings.

A camera to identify specific vine diseases is in development. The basic cost of the machine – without camera or other extras – is €15,000.

Pierre Darriet, technical director at Luchey-Halde told Decanter.com, ‘We tested thermal and infra-red cameras, and the tests went very well.

‘The drone clearly offers the chance of true precision viticulture, and is an efficient way to measure large or small parcels of vines at a microscopic level.’

Fly-n-Sense are planning further tests in Saint Emilion from July of this year.

Written by Jane Anson in Bordeaux

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