Photo: Greenfield Robotics
The idea of chemical-free farming might conjure images of hipster farmers in artfully distressed overalls gently coaxing lettuce to life with their dirty hands.
But programmers are bringing a space-age touch to time-honored farming techniques.
Enter the ag-bots
WiseFarm’s Titan weed cutters are clever little guys designed to meander through plant rows, attacking weeds with retractable hoes. A single robot can do as much as 15 to 20 human workers.
That’s an important feat: COVID-19 and immigration restrictions have significantly drained the labor pool. And since they take care of weeds, the robots negate the need for harmful herbicides, too.
Greenfield Robotics’s broadleaf weedbot, meanwhile, is an autonomous mini-mower smart enough to tell crops and weeds apart and take down the latter.
Across the pond, the UK-based Small Robot Company makes robots with advanced scanning and photographic abilities to zap weeds with electricity.
And robots are going after more than just weeds
They can make food storage safer as well.
MIT teamed up with Ava Robotics and the Greater Boston Food Bank to build a robot that patrols warehouses and uses UV light to disinfect surfaces and zap nasty things like coronaviruses out of the air.
In a test run, the robot neutralized 90% of the coronaviruses on surfaces in a 4k square-foot space in just 30 minutes.
Now if someone would make a bot to remind us to put the mayonnaise away after sandwich time, we’d be all set.