Robotic Vineyard Worker May Take Over France's Vineyards

The most buzzed-about vineyard worker in France doesn't speak, doesn't call in sick, and isn't a human. Meet "Wall-Ye V.I.N," a Wall-E look-alike robot that is taking France's vineyards by storm. 

The AFP reports the robot, developed in Burgundy, France, has a GPS system, six arms, and four wheels to get around vineyards. His main task is pruning vines and removing unproductive young shoots. While Wall-Ye is out, the robot can also take notes on weather conditions, soil conditions, and the health of the vines. 

The maker of Wall-Ye, Christophe Millot, said he began to work on the robot when a French vintner came to him with a problem: he needed someone to thin the leaves on his vines, but couldn't find any available workers. Now, Millot is getting requests for sales demonstrations across France's wine country, and Wall-Ye will have a grand debut at one of France's most recognized vineyards: Bordeaux's Château Mouton-Rothschild. 

But while some winemakers are excited about a robot taking on the dirty work of winemaking (pruning vines isn't exactly fun work), others are a bit miffed about it — especially when unemployment stands at 3 million in France. Some say that using a robot would hurt the tradition of French's historic vineyards, and that a robot can't decipher the unique challenges of pruning and ripening grapes.