Farming robot uses artificial intelligence to kill 100,000 weeds per hour

Farming robot uses artificial intelligence to kill 100,000 weeds per hour

Carbon Robots makes a weeding robot that thinks for itself to figure out how to remove weeds without harming crops. The robot “leverages robotics, artificial intelligence (AI), and laser technology to safely and effectively drive through crop fields to identify, target and eliminate weeds.”

“Unlike other weeding technologies, the robots utilize high-power lasers to eradicate weeds through thermal energy, without disturbing the soil. The automated robots allow farmers to use fewer herbicides and reduce labor to remove unwanted plants while improving the reliability and predictability of costs, crop yield, and more.”

Weeds deprive plants of sunlight and soil and create avenues for bugs to harm crops. In the past, farmers or farm laborers pulled weeds out by hand. But it’s getting very expensive to hire laborers to do that, and sometimes, no laborers can be found.

The autonomous weeder robot fills that gap. It travels smoothly down farmers’ rows and uses 12 cameras to assess the soil beneath it. Then, the robot’s computer uses artificial intelligence (AI) to identify the dangerous weeds. Then, it kills the weeds using carbon dioxide lasers.

As Interesting Engineering notes,

The robot is so efficient that it can remove more than 100,000 weeds per hour and weed 15 to 20 acres of crops in one day. This task would take laborers weeks to achieve as they average about one acre a day.

What’s the catch? The robot is pretty pricey. We don’t have exact numbers yet but Carbon Robotics’ CEO Paul Mikesell told the Seattle Times it costs “hundreds of thousands of dollars.”

However, if you add the costs of laborers over time the robot could pay for itself in two to three years. Maybe that’s why it’s proving such a popular item. “We have more requests for machines than we can fulfill,” Mikesell added.

Drones are making farming much easier for some farmers, including drones that have artificial intelligence. These drones can spray herbicides, fungicides and insecticides far more cheaply and efficiently than can be done by many small farmers pulling a tank with their tractor:

In the eight months since [a farmer] made his $40,000 investment [in an aerial-spraying drone] — a whole lot cheaper than the roughly $700,000 it would have cost to replace his old ground rig — it has cut his fuel costs and already reduced his agrochemical usage by about 15%. The drone has also enabled him to work his fields after heavy rains — when the ground is often too sodden for heavy equipment — and has spared his crop from the routine damage caused by tractors. It has also saved his soil from the compaction, bogging and erosion caused by farm machinery.

And drones do less collateral damage to crops than a tractor. As Bloomberg News notes, “These aerial acrobats use less than a tenth of the energy of ground tractors — and they don’t squash the crops, rut the earth or even touch the soil.”

LU Staff

LU Staff

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