This Weed-Killing Robot Makes Herbicides Obsolete
The Bosch BoniRob is a LIDAR-enabled robot that identifies weeds you don’t want and squashes them into the ground with impressive force. It can run for up to 24 hours at once, killing about two weeds a second.
According to Bosch, the robot is about the size of a small vehicle, and uses the same type of laser-radar vision system that Google’s self-driving cars use to navigate the world. BoniRob is programmed by being shown pictures of leaves from plants farmers want to harvest and differentiates them from weeds. Using machine learning—a form of artificial intelligence that allows it to make decisions based on what it’s been shown—it applies its own information to what it sees when it’s in the field, stamping down only on the weeds it’s been asked to eliminate. BoniRob could potentially rid farms of the need to use herbicides or other weed killers on crops, which have been seen as potentially harmful to humans.
Machine learning systems get better with more information, so with each new weed or plant it sees, BoniRob refines its interpretation of what each of them are, getting more advanced at doing its job each time. In tests on carrot patches, BoniRob stamped out about 90% of weeds, according to “Popular Science”.
BoniRob is currently being tested on real farmland, and IEEE Spectrum says that it can run autonomously for about a whole day before it runs out of fuel. Bosch intends to rent or sell the robot to farmers looking to cut down on labour costs. According to the company, farmers today can harvest about 3-4 times what they could from the same amount of land in the 1950s, and as our population continues to increase, we’ll have to find new ways to keep growing crops efficiently and safely.
This self-driven robot shows how machine learning and sensor technology can create better, more powerful agriculture robots. One day, robots like this one will eradicate the need for herbicides and pesticides.
Imagine a future with an army of self-driving BoniRobs could be all that’s needed to harvest our fields. Once self-driving lorries can bring the food to stores, and self-driving robots can stack it on supermarket shelves, just like in an Amazon warehouse hub; we’ll be able to have a completely self-driven robot farm-to-table meal. Future foody hipsters will be in heaven .
To your healthy future.