Weed control is a steady headache for farmers. Pesticides are bad for both humans and the environment, while mechanical control is expensive and time consuming. An alternative could be to let a self-propelled robot take care of the weeds.
An article in AFN describes the latest robot from Carbon Robotics that uses AI and laser to eliminate all weeds in a field. The robot is as big as a tractor and has eight 150 watt lasers that are powerful enough to cut through metal. At the same time, the lasers are precise, and hit their target with an error margin of three millimeters, leaving the soil surrounding the weeds untouched.
The AI uses image recognition to distinguish between weeds and crops,
so that the lasers only burn off the weeds. The tractor-sized robot can clear up to 6.5 hectares per day. The interest from farmers seems to be great, judging by the fact that Carbon Robotics has already sold all the robots they can manufacture in 2021. For those who did not order in time, they will have to wait until 2022. Currently the robot is only sold in the US.
Working on more features
"This is one of the most innovative and valuable technologies that I’ve seen as a farmer. I expect the robots to go mainstream because of how effectively they address some of farming’s most critical issues, including the overuse of chemicals, process efficiency and labor. These robots work with a variety of crops, are autonomous and organic" says farmer James Johnson, who have used the robot in his fields, in a press release.
Carbon Robotics has developed different models of the robot since 2018 and has tested it on a variety of crops such as onions and broccoli. The company is now working on a model that could do more than just clear weeds.
"We still have a lot to do on the software side. We want to give farmers more data and real-time information about what is happening in their fields", says Paul Mikesell, CEO of Carbon Robotics in a press release.
Image: Carbon Robotics