Self-Driving Farm Robot Uses Lasers To Kill Weeds

The nutrient content of our vegetables is down 40% over the last two decades and our soil health is suffering due to increasingly harsh herbicide use. Farmers are increasingly concerned about the long-term health impacts of continually spraying chemicals on their fields, but not weeding would cost half of their crop, killing profitability. The solution? A self-driving farm robot that kills 100,000 weeds an hour ... by laser. Farmers are able to identify in real time what’s a weed and what’s a crop, allowing them to get rid of only the weeds. The Carbon Robotics autonomous laserweeder is a beast at almost 10,000 pounds. It boasts no fewer than eight independently-aimed 150-watt lasers — typically used for metal cutting — that can fire 20 times per second. They’re guided by 12 high-resolution cameras connected to AI systems that can recognize good crops from bad weeds. It drives 5 mph and can clear 15-20 acres in a day. It also works all night long, with high-powered lights that illuminate the crop bed so the cameras can see the plants clearly and the computer systems can identify them. A solution for weed control that doesn’t involve herbicides — literally poison for at least some kinds of plants — has to be a positive.