Controlling weeds with a robot

Controlling weeds with a robot
Apr 22, 2021

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The Autonomous Weeder uses AI and lasers to identify, target and eliminate weeds

By Diego Flammini
Staff Writer
Farms.com

A new piece of equipment is available for farmers to control weeds without the use of herbicides.

Carbon Robotics out of Seattle, Wash. has developed the Autonomous Weeder, which uses artificial intelligence and laser technology to navigate crop fields, identify, target and eliminate weeds.

“The robots are completely autonomous and drive up and down the spaces between the rows,” Paul Mikesell, founder and CEO of Carbon Robotics, told Farms.com. “The computer vision system keeps the robot’s wheels in the furrows. The computer system can also tell what’s a crop and what’s a weed. Then it becomes a matter of targeting the laser and destroying the weed.”

Using these robots can provide benefits including increasing crop yield and quality and reducing operating costs.

“When we do field days where one part of a field is sprayed with herbicide and the other part is laser-weeded, you can tell the quality and quantity of the crops on the laser-weeded side is much better,” Mikesell said.

The robots come equipped with eight lasers capable of targeting weeds.

The machine can eliminate over 100,000 weeds per hour and can identify between multiple different types of weeds, Mikesell said.

“We have a whole almanac we’ve been building up and can identify around 50 types of weeds” he said. “We gather imagery from around the world and we take that information and run it back from our AI system. We have a whole system set up for categorization and classification.”

Some Autonomous Weeders are already deployed in farm fields.

James Johnson has been using the robot at his Columbus, N.M. onion farm.

He’s happy with how the robot has performed.

“This is one of the most innovative and valuable technologies that I’ve seen as a farmer,” he said. “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. The sky’s the limit.”

Farmers interested in purchasing one of these robots will have to wait.

Models for 2021 are already sold out but Carbon Robotics is taking pre-orders for 2022.

Anyone looking for more information on the robots can contact Carbon Robotics.



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WEED ID: Late Emergence Weeds

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In this video Field Agronomist Meaghan Anderson (Iowa State University) walks us through some late-season emergence weeds that will continue to emerge throughout the growing season.
 

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