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From Barolo Monfortino to a robotic, autonomous tractor: Roberto Conterno’s project

Ready to debut the “RC3075” tractor, first produced by Conterno & Bona and Black Shire, capable of working the vineyard alone, “h24”

From the highest-rated Italian wine of all, Giacomo Conterno’s Barolo Monfortino, capable of fetching stellar prices at auctions and in the world's most exclusive wine shops and restaurants, to a high-tech robotic tractor, conceived and developed entirely “homemade”, the step is anything but short. Yet that is what producer Roberto Conterno, who heads the celebrated winery in Monforte d’Alba, has been able to accomplish, a project that, born concretely in the midst of Covid, in 2020, is ready to see the light of day, namely the “RC3075” robotic tractor, designed, in mechanics and software, by Conterno & Bona, a startup of Roberto Conterno himself and engineer Federico Bona, and built (and ready to be put on the market) by “Black Shire”. A “tool carrier”, as Roberto Conterno, “Mister Monfortino”, sums it up to WineNews, because if today the tractor, fully robotic and therefore autonomous, is already ready for cutting grass in the vineyard and administering treatments, with other specially adapted equipment it will be able to carry out all those repetitive and mechanical tasks that are needed to run the vineyard.
“It’s a project I believe in and have invested a lot in”, explains Conterno, who tells WineNews about its genesis in this way. “I was born a tractor driver, I have always been on the tractor. Here in our vineyard we use the tracklayer tractors, but for 20 years they have always been the same, never evolved. Then a few years ago, while I was working, I wondered what was the point of being on the same old mechanical, and repetitive operations, and if there was another way. Then, for other work in the basement, I met engineer Federico Bona, and so, in 2020, this adventure started. We designed and engineered it entirely, including the software part, both for tool handling and guidance, which is under “Rtk” satellite technology, which means having margins of error of one centimeter, practically zero”.
An innovation of great potential scope, Roberto Conterno further explains. “We start from the concept that for certain mechanical and repetitive operations, the robot is more reliable than man, who may get distracted while doing them. The tractor, programmed, performs that operation exactly, and can work “h24”. We produce it all ourselves, apart from a diesel engine that we buy, which powers the electric motors that move the tractor and its implements, which, like everything else, are designed, engineered and built by us. Conterno Bona is in charge of research and development, Black Shire, which today has 25 employees, but which we aim to double as early as next year, of production and marketing. We will present it from November 8 to 19, in our Francia vineyard, in Serralunga d’Alba, with personalized visits and by reservation, because it is an innovation that we want to tell well. The hope is that then other companies who will learn about it will be willing to create equipment that can adapt to our robot tractor, which is already able to work autonomously, without an operator. This tractor is my dream, and it is the beginning of the near future”.

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