BoniRob can stamp out nearly two weeds per second and has an uncanny accuracy.
The German company Bosch has developed a robot capable of identifying weeds and stamping them into the ground. The scientific breakthroughis a result of research done by Bosch’s Deerfield Robotics division, Osnabrück University, and Amazon.
While a green-thumbed gardener might mosey through the rows of their garden and pull out any unwanted weeds, the speed at which the robot can identify targets and stamp them into the ground is almost too fast to witness, reports Popular Mechanics.
BoniRob is about the size of a small car and uses the same type of laser-radar vision system that Google’s self-driving cars use to navigate the world.
When it travels through a field in search of weeds, it uses a device about 1 cm (0.4 inches) wide to stamp undesired plants into the ground.
The robot is programmed by being shown pictures of leaves from plants farmers want to harvest, as well as weeds. Using machine learning – a type of artificial intelligence that allows it to make decisions based on what it has been shown – it applies its knowledge to the task at hand and crushes weeds it has been asked to kill.
The more the machine is programmed, the better its learning systems get. BoniRob also refines its notion of what each of the weeds is, therefore, gets a little better at its job each time it is given a task.
At present, the machine is being tested on real farmland and IEEE Spectrum says that it can run autonomously for about 24 hours before it runs out of gas.
In the future, the company aims to rent or sell the robot to farmers seeking to cut down on manual labor costs. Of course, future development of other robots able to help out in the field is inevitable.
If farmers were to employ the help of a robot, says the company, they could continue increase crop output and keep up with the world’s growing demand for food.
Perhaps in the not-too-distant future, robots will plant and harvest crops, self-driving trucks will deliver produce to stores, and self-driving robots will stack it on the supermarket’s shelves.
It sounds like the plot of a Sci-Fi movie, but if this news hints at anything, it’s that any imagined reality has the potential of being made manifest.
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