An expert system for automatically pruning vines
Vine pruning is an important part of vineyard management, and pruning is the most expensive task in the vineyard which has not yet been automated. Every year, most new canes must be removed from the vine, and the choice of canes to retain impacts vine yield. To automate the process of vine pruning, a vine pruning robot must make decisions on what canes to remove or to keep, based on a 3D topological model of the structure of the vine. In this paper we present an Artificial Intelligence (AI) system for making these decisions, developed and evaluated using simulated vines. A viticulture expert evaluated our approach by comparing it to pruning decisions made by a pruner with a skill level typical of human pruners. Our system successfully pruned 30% of vines better than the human and 89% at least as well. These results demonstrate that the vine pruning problem is solvable using current computing technologies, and that automating the pruning process has the potential to improve vine quality and yield.