(ORDO NEWS) — In agriculture, weeds can destroy crops. Unfortunately, spraying herbicides to control invasive plants pollutes the environment and harms human health, and there are often not enough workers to deal with all the weeds by hand.
A new startup called FarmWise has come up with a solution: autonomous weeding robots that use artificial intelligence to remove weeds while leaving crops untouched.
“We have a growing population and cannot expand the land or water we have, so we need to dramatically increase the efficiency of agriculture,” said co-founder Sebastien Boyer at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
“I think AI and data will be the main players along the way.”
The company currently boasts two super weed robots: Titan and Vulcan. Both are equipped with artificial intelligence that guides hundreds of tiny blades to cut weeds around each crop without harming healthy plants. Both also allow for human observation as the robots work to remove pesky weeds.
FarmWise has now logged over 15,000 hours of work and has ambitious plans to use the collected data for more than just weeding.
“It’s all about accuracy,” Boyer said. “We are going to better understand what the plant needs and make smarter decisions for each of them.
This will lead us to be able to use the same amount of land, much less water, almost no chemicals, much less fertilizer, and still produce more food than we do today. This is a mission. That’s what worries me.”
Boyer added that his company’s mission is to turn AI into a tool that is as robust and reliable as GPS is now in agriculture.
“Twenty-five years ago, GPS was a very sophisticated technology. You had to connect to satellites and do crazy calculations to determine your location.
But several companies have taken GPS to new levels of reliability and simplicity. Today, every farmer in the world uses GPS.
We believe that AI can have an even deeper impact than GPS on the agricultural industry, and we want to be the company that makes it accessible and easy to use for every farmer in the world,” concluded Boyer.
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