Friday, September 16, 2005

Robot Farm Worker Pulls Weeds

Weeding is a major problem for ecological growers since it is both expensive and time-consuming. New robot technology may have the solution. In a new dissertation, Björn Åstrand, from Halmstad University in Sweden, presents how weeds can be removed mechanically -with the fully automated robot Lukas.

“For an ecological grower of beets, weeding can cost about SEK 10,000 per hectare. With robot technology we estimate that these costs can be cut in half. In the long term this technology would also mean major environmental benefits by ultimately replacing chemical herbicides in traditional cultivation,” says Björn Åstrand, who works at the School of Information Science, Computer and Electrical Engineering at Halmstad University.

The robot can automatically make its way around a field and remove weeds both between cultivation rows and in the rows, between plants.

An infrared camera is installed on the robot to read the rows. The images are processed using a specially developed computer program that in turn steers the robot’s wheels and weeding tool.
Within the rows, the robot distinguishes between crop and weeds with the aid of another camera, which takes color images, and a program that analyzes the color and form of the plants.

Will robot farm workers become cheaper than migrant labor?

Robot weeds fields



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