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Robots Armed with UV Light Fight Grape Mildew

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UV light robot Thorvald applies treatment on grape vines in a Cornell AgriTech research field at night.

A new autonomous robot named Thorvald uses ultraviolet lamps to kill powdery mildew on crops.

Credit: David Gadoury

A multi-institutional and international collaboration led by Cornell AgriTech researchers and Norwegian agricultural-industry service provider SAGA Robotics has yielded autonomous robots that use ultraviolet (UV) light lamps to kill powdery mildew on crops.

The robots will patrol vineyards at night when a lack of blue light suppresses the pathogen's biochemical repair mechanism, while using low-dose UV light to ensure the mildew's destruction without harming plants.

Field trials of the robots are taking place in two Chardonnay vineyards in New York State.

Project partner Lance Cadle-Davidson is working with Carnegie Mellon University scientists to develop imaging technology that can measure mildew on grape leaves. He said, "Our long-term vision is we'll couple these detection and treatment approaches across the vineyard in an automated way."

From Cornell Chronicle
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