Wall-Ye … Wallie … helps make wine … but has never had a drink in his life …

    The grape harvesting is about to come to an end here in France. So, would you like the bad news first? The cold and rainy weather we’ve had for most of this year of 2012 means that the harvest is small, which in turn means that there will be fewer bottles of wine. […]

 

 

Wall-Ye

The grape harvesting is about to come to an end here in France.

So, would you like the bad news first?

The cold and rainy weather we’ve had for most of this year of 2012 means that the harvest is small, which in turn means that there will be fewer bottles of wine.

The good news is that what wine there will be, will be of an excellent quality.

What I want to tell you, however, is that vintners ( Brad Pitt has just bought a new vine estate in Provence, so he counts as one) always employ grape pickers.

Once these pickers were students (French or foreign) grateful for the few francs they were to earn.

These past few years, however, the pickers have been East European immigrants – not all of them here in France legally – and believing that the vintners needed them more than they needed the vintners, our papers were always reporting the pickers’ complaints over the low wages they were receiving and the sub-standard accommodation they were given.

This may now be something of the past because of a robot named Wall-Ye. Or, VIN, for Viticulture Intelligent Naturelle, to give its scientific name.

Wall-Ye, the brainchild of French inventor Christophe Millot from the town of Mâcon in the Saône-and-Loire department (county) of the Burgundy (Bourgogne) region of France, looks like the moon buggy of yesteryear.

What he is going to do is to replace not only those grumbling grape pickers but also vintner farmhands.

Wall-Ye is quite cute looking. Is white with a splash of red. Is 50 centimeters (20 inches) high, 60 centimeters (24 inches) long, and he has four wheels and two arms. He also has six cameras which send information to his electronic brain which makes it possible for him to, not only pick grapes, but also to prune the vines and to remove dead shoots (called de-suckering in the world of vintners) and even to study the soil.

This little marvel of 20 kilos (44 lbs) costs €25,000 ($32,425 / £20,163).

Said Monsieur Millot: “It has a GPS, and if it finds itself in a non-designated vineyard, it won’t start. It also has a gyroscope so it knows if it’s been lifted off the ground.”

In other words, the little fellow is thief-proof.

However, as a policeman once told me, “nothing is thief-proof”, so if a thief does endeavour to steal Wall-Ye, the little robot’s hard-drive will self-destruct and send a message to its owner crying “Help!”

It took Monsieur Millot and the French toolmaker Guy Julien three years to design Wall-Ye.

“It was thousands of hours of work for the two of us – weekends and nights included,” Monsieur Millot told journalists.

He added that their biggest challenge was to make the cameras understand what they were seeing and how to interpret it.

All problems solved, Wall-Ye is now on the market.

All I can say is that I would not even try to understand how Wall-Ye operates.

I mean, I even struggle to uncork a bottle of wine.

 

 

 

 

Marilyn Z. Tomlins

One Response to “Wall-Ye … Wallie … helps make wine … but has never had a drink in his life …”

  1. 1
    Alex Lieban Says:

    Great article. I will think of Wall-Ye when I open my next bottle.

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