Wine growers have a neat, if unusual, trick for making more flavorful wine--don't water the vines. Let the vines go dry right before harvest, and they will yield smaller grapes with more skin and less juice. Smaller grapes produce wine with a deeper color and more complex flavor. Trinchero Family Estates in Napa Valley, California wanted to make sure it was watering its grapes just the right amount, so they worked with Ceres Imaging to map their fields. Ceres used fixed-wing aircrafts to capture color, thermal, and infrared images of the vineyard, and they used artificial intelligence to analyze those images to see if the wine producer was overwatering its grapes.
Driscoll's is so secretive about its robotic strawberry picker it won't let photographers within telephoto range of it. But if you do get a peek, you won't see anything humanoid or space-aged. AgroBot is still more John Deere than C-3PO -- a boxy contraption moving in fits and starts, with its computer-driven sensors, graspers and cutters missing 1 in 3 berries. Such has been the progress of ag-tech in California, where despite the adoption of drones, iPhone apps and satellite-driven sensors, the hand and knife still harvest the bulk of more than 200 crops. Now, the $47-billion agriculture industry is trying to bring technological innovation up to warp speed before it runs out of low-wage immigrant workers.