AgFunder News reported that autonomous robotics company Carbon Robotics debuted its third-generation weeding robot which combines AI and laser technology to take care of one of farmers’ least-favorite jobs. A single robot can weed up to 16 acres per day, replacing several hand-weeding crews, according to the Seattle-based startup. Each one weighs about 10,000 pounds and is the size of a medium tractor, using a hydraulic diesel system for power.
The bots are armed with eight 150-watt carbon dioxide lasers that are capable of cutting metal. They rely on computer vision tech to identify weeds and distinguish them from the valuable crops farmers are aiming to protect.
The article goes on to note that Carbon Robotics believes the biggest benefit of its laser-led approach is leaving the soil and its microbiology completely undisturbed. As soil health continues to be a major topic in the agriculture industry, opportunities to address it through innovation are a hot commodity.
Being able to forgo the application of herbicides makes the device a prime candidate for farms wanting to adopt regenerative practices – as well as the organic farming market, where producers are limited on the types of inputs they can use to tackle weeds.
Other purported benefits of Carbon’s robots are lower overall costs because of reduced dependence on manual labor, fewer inputs, and improved yields due to less weed pressure.
Carbon Robotics is selling its new model directly to farmers, mostly on the US West Coast so far. It’s already sold out for 2021, but new models for the 2022 growing season are available for pre-order. The startup also offers a leasing option, which often makes more sense for farms with smaller acreages.
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