Why pull weeds when you can zap them with AI-powered lasers?

An agtech startup hopes farmers find salvation in its high-tech, weed-eliminating machine.

Laser weed removal will launch thousands of “Back in my day… ” stories about how older generations used to work the ground with their hands, pulling up weeds until they couldn’t feel their fingers.

laser zapping weeds

… and sure, Grandpa, that’s great, but we’ll take the lasers.

Agtech startup Carbon Robotics continues to pick up steam with LaserWeeder, its high-tech farming machinery.

What is LaserWeeder?

A weed-obliteration machine that uses proprietary AI and computer vision technology for to-the-millimeter precision thinning of crop fields.

  • There are 30 industrial lasers, tracking cameras, and a deep-learning model on board.
  • It can kill ~200k weeds per hour.
  • Weeding by thermal energy means no damage to plants or disturbance of soil.

For scale, the LaserWeeder is ~3 Shaquille O’Neals wide, ~2 Danny DeVitos long, and ~7 bowling pins tall.

Good luck finding a cooler yardwork hack

The first weeders sold out upon unveiling in 2022 — so far, the freshman class has combined to eliminate 500m+ weeds across 40 different crops.

Why farmers are on board:

  • Herbicide-resistant weeds have tormented farmers for decades. Herbicides themselves are also a top cost (~$100/acre each year).
  • LaserWeeder takes care of both in the long run, while also helping farms navigate their current labor shortage.
  • Theoretically, it also drives chemical-free, no-till farming, which leads to higher yields of healthier, more organic crops.

Investors are on board, too:

  • Even as VC trends against robotics, Carbon just raised another $30m. Since launching in 2018, it has raised $67m.
  • Per GeekWire, Carbon believes laserweeding could be a $41B market.

What’s next?

Carbon will scale its machines (which reportedly cost between $25k-$50k) as it looks to grow across the US and Canada. As it does so, it will prep for European expansion.

Though, if we may make a suggestion, perhaps a laser whacker for our weed-riddled yards could come first?

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