Robots that make life easier are pretty awesome in their own right. But what about a robot that would transform agriculture as we know it, while saving our health and helping the environment? That beats the heck out of a robotic barista.
Blue River Technology, based in Mountain View, Calif., is working on development of a robot that could solve the No. 1 problem in agriculture: eliminating weeds. Sure, that sounds simple, but how do you safely eliminate weeds without adding herbicideas to food crops, genetically modifying the seeds or resorting to costly, time-consuming manual removal?
Using computer vision, of course! Blue River's robot combines computer vision with advanced spray technology; when it is pulled behind a tractor, it uses a camera to look down at the field below. The bot processes what it sees in mere milliseconds, enabling it to distinguish weeds from plants. Then, it sprays only the weeds with herbicide. What a welcomed change from the traditional method of spraying an entire field with herbicide and genetically modifying crops to resist herbicide.
Blue River's method could prove better for consumers' health, the environment and farmers' wallets -- which, in turn, could lead to more affordable produce. Blue River, which was founded in 2011, plans to deploys its first robotic weed-busters this year, on California lettuce crops.