Some applications of robotics in cultivations
When we think of technological innovations, most of the times we imagine AI that communicates with humans or robots that do complex tasks. We often forget that these innovations can be applied to almost every aspect of our lives! What about cultivations? In the last years, there were many experiments to improve activities in this sector. In this article, we’ll talk about an interesting application of robotics in this important field!
A problem to solve
Some specific vegetables, like broccoli or tomatoes, request a different type of cultivation. These specialty crops aren’t mass-produced like corn or soybean and you can’t treat them with traditional methods. There aren’t herbicides for these products so it’s necessary to intervene manually. On the other hand, using workers for weeding costs up to 300 $ for an acre! This problem motivated many growers to look to robotic weeders.
The use of robotic weeders
Steven Fennimore, a specialist from the University of California, is working with researchers and engineers from many companies and universities to improve the efficiency of robots used in cultivations. The idea is simple: robotic weeders recognize a pattern, understand the difference between soil and plants and use small blades to uproot weeds. But how can they distinguish a vegetable from weed?
For now, this is the real problem. To simplify robots’ work, rows have to be more straight, clean and consistent than usual. Some companies are developing methods for tagging cultivations, to help machines recognize and avoid them. Nonetheless, this technology is just starting and doesn’t guarantee perfect results.
A robotic weeder costs around 150.000 $. For many growers, this is a more convenient long-term investment than using workers for the same task. But these machines didn’t reach a level of full automation or versatility yet. There are many things to solve, like different systems for every kind of cultivation, but researchers are confident. According to Fennimore, the advantage of these machines is that technology “is very flexible and can be updated easily”.
An undiscovered potential
Robotics saves many surprises for the future. If a weeding machine can be developed in so many ways, imagine what else robots will do! We at BrainWise are happy to be part of these technological innovations using artificial intelligence and robotics to improve our customers’ work!