Roomba Weed Killing Robots

FrgMstr

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MIT Technology Review is pointing out that this weed killing robot could put a big dent in the revenue of the $26B herbicide market. It is quite simple. Instead of spraying entire fields with herbicides, this robot goes out and finds the offending weeds in the grow fields and only uses the herbicide exactly where needed. The version below is identifying the weeds for extermination by larger tractors that would then go treat the targeted areas. This technology could bring down the usage of herbicides on our foods in such cases by a factor of 20. Wow!

Check out the video.

The industry impact: The use of these weed killers isn’t far off. John Deere got in on the tech last year, acquiring the precision spraying startup Blue River, meaning its tractors could be outfitted with weed targeters very soon. Large agrochemical companies are desperately trying to acquire businesses working on similar technologies, in preparation for a decline in demand for their chemicals.
 

pcgeekesq

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Why use herbicides at all? Why not just do it old-school, and pull the weed?

Of course, that's slow and probably limited by the power budget of the hippy-dippy solar power panels.

So better would be a more powerful robot (rechargable or, for farms on Mars, nuclear-powered :) ) that kills the weeds with a "laser." Or a maser if you prefer: microwave the little bastards.
 

Chupachup

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There have been several universities showing drone tech that can monitor fields conditions and differentiate between crops and other growth intruding on fields for years now. Much of that development is still in its infancy and in many ways currently cost prohibitive. Yet, it's currently very interesting and will all to soon become the norm for many large growers.
 

Dead Parrot

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Won't just be the herbicide companies being impacted. Why will farmers need 'Round Up Ready' seeds when their equipment can target only the unwanted plants?
 

STEvil

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So you can spray out the volunteer from previous year crop so new crop will grow.

The tech has applications for early targeting but after the crop has come up enough im not sure it will still be applicable.

For reference im seeding the last 30 acres of ~8500 at the moment..
 

Mugato

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So you can spray out the volunteer from previous year crop so new crop will grow.

The tech has applications for early targeting but after the crop has come up enough im not sure it will still be applicable.

For reference im seeding the last 30 acres of ~8500 at the moment..

Looks like that's why it's so tall, and can differentiate between plants?
 

Archaea

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Cool - but a couple observations

I've never seen a field so smooth as what they showed - that was 1 step above baseball infield

How does it handle rain/muddy field? Tires seem a bit too small - maybe if it's 4x4.
 

ir0nw0lf

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Would love one of these with lasers on it for things like moles and such. :D
 

STEvil

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Looks like that's why it's so tall, and can differentiate between plants?

Its not very tall and wont get into a crop like canola by how its designed. Canola can be 7 feet tall and crazy tabgled making it near impossible to walk through.Even pivots can get stuck from the plant material.

As for flatness of the field that one looks similar to ours after having been rolled.
 

Teenyman45

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This is where I bring out the Philip J. "Take My Money!" Fry .gif right?

My lawn could desperately use one of these!
 
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Cool - but a couple observations

I've never seen a field so smooth as what they showed - that was 1 step above baseball infield

How does it handle rain/muddy field? Tires seem a bit too small - maybe if it's 4x4.

Definitely my first thought as well. Tires have no tread, the electro motors have to be super low power for those 2 panels to power them for any length of time and no visible suspension. That thing would have trouble navigating any field out by me (corn, wheat, alfalfa, beans).

Heck maybe this things intention is sports fields. That where the throw away money exists at anyways.
 

Jagger100

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Aerial one to spot spray weed killer. Can be adapted to spot spray nerve toxin.
 
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Definitely my first thought as well. Tires have no tread, the electro motors have to be super low power for those 2 panels to power them for any length of time and no visible suspension. That thing would have trouble navigating any field out by me (corn, wheat, alfalfa, beans).

Heck maybe this things intention is sports fields. That where the throw away money exists at anyways.


Don't get me wrong, those are all valid points.

This is a demonstration level prototype. This is probably years away from production.

To quote the West Wing "For everything that works, there is a period in it's history that it doesn't"

Let's enjoy the awesomeness that this *MIGHT" actually work!
 

bos

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Huge, huge development here. Without the herbecides and pesticides, we would not be able to properly feed our population. Being able to directly target the weeds will not only save money on chemicals, but will also be more effective.

We produce many multiples of the amount of food we need to feed the world. It's not about supply or demand, it's about distribution, greed, and stupidity (your tax dollars pay farmers to let crops rot rather than feed people). Don't pretend any of the modern Agri business is necessary, its not. Majority of our crop land is to feed livestock instead of people and we still grow more than enough.
 

TordanGow

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Does't surprise me. Advancement in sensors / processing power and some rudimentary metrics can have machines automatically classifying and identifying items. Clustering is ultra fast and generally efficient.

J8ihyAY.png
 

lostin3d

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I so want one now. Don't want to use the herbicide necessarily but if we could refill with one of those vinegar solutions that would be cool.

takemymoney.jpg
 

lostin3d

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Just occurred to me. It'd give me a good excuse to sit on the front porch, shotgun on one side, beer on the other, just to protect it from landscapers driving by watching a good chunk of work they'll never get from me again.
 

craigdt

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I'll take 2 please

This was last fall after a full renovation.

Got some weeds poking up now
TQHVZAb.jpg
 
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Don't get me wrong, those are all valid points.

This is a demonstration level prototype. This is probably years away from production.

To quote the West Wing "For everything that works, there is a period in it's history that it doesn't"

Let's enjoy the awesomeness that this *MIGHT" actually work!

Completely agree with you. My comment was based on the "spraying entire fields" portion of the OP. I'm all for new ideas that learn and adapt in the process.

I recently bought a foot actuated weed puller to avoid spraying chemicals all over my yard. Pulled out roughly 45 dandelions with that thing. I'll take a sore back over chemicals blankets right now, especially with my kid playing in the yard. If something like this allows me to spray 3 inch sections lets say, sold.
 

Comixbooks

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That is the funniest looking robot I ever seen I suppose it can get rid of the weeds before the crops are too high like Corn would get like 6' feet.
 

xmadror

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Seems like a drone (or a few) with self recharge could do a better job at covering large field.
Even if they fly for 30 min and recharge for an hour I bet it'd be faster.
 

fuzzylogik

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That's pretty dang cool. I'm sure if this really does work as intended, other robots will be designed for specific types of crops (or for use after plants get a specific height etc.). very cool indeed!
 

jardows

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We produce many multiples of the amount of food we need to feed the world. It's not about supply or demand, it's about distribution, greed, and stupidity (your tax dollars pay farmers to let crops rot rather than feed people). Don't pretend any of the modern Agri business is necessary, its not. Majority of our crop land is to feed livestock instead of people and we still grow more than enough.

You realize what livestock is used for don't you?

It is because of the inefficient distribution system, we need mass growing of food. More food grown than needed also allows for cheaper prices. Unless you want food prices to quadruple, which will cause problems in of itself. The fact that food prices have remained fairly stable for the last 20 years or so, and in some cases are cheaper than they were years ago, is a testament that the modern agribusiness is doing its job.
 

katanaD

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farmers to let crops rot rather than feed people


and if we want to continue to feed people, we need to let, and actively encourage, farmers to let their fields go fallow for a time. its called crop rotation and is a very good thing.
 

Nukester

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So much this! My first thought seeing this article was "where can I get one!"

I get to pull/spray weeds after work tonight, not looking forward to it :(

The spring sucks. No matter how hard I try it takes till June for my warm weather grass to take over.
 

craigdt

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Completely agree with you. My comment was based on the "spraying entire fields" portion of the OP. I'm all for new ideas that learn and adapt in the process.

I recently bought a foot actuated weed puller to avoid spraying chemicals all over my yard. Pulled out roughly 45 dandelions with that thing. I'll take a sore back over chemicals blankets right now, especially with my kid playing in the yard. If something like this allows me to spray 3 inch sections lets say, sold.

Also functions as a poor man's aerator
 

bos

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and if we want to continue to feed people, we need to let, and actively encourage, farmers to let their fields go fallow for a time. its called crop rotation and is a very good thing.

No they harvest, then let them rot, or burn them. It's not for soil remediation. Lol.
 
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