Whereas manually hoeing weeds out of crops may be very time- and labor-intensive, spraying these crops with herbicides is certainly not eco-friendly. A German consortium is creating a 3rd alternative, within the type of the AMU-Bot weed-killing robotic.
Shifting alongside on caterpillar-type treads, the bot is able to autonomously travelling up and down the rows of crops in orchards, vegetable fields or tree nurseries. It makes use of onboard LiDAR scanners to remain between these rows, and to see the place every row ends so it might flip round and head down the following one.
And though the AMU-Bot is not able to figuring out particular varieties of crops, it is in a position to differentiate between crop crops and others which should not be there – weeds, in different phrases. When one of many latter is noticed, the robotic lowers down a rotary harrow (form of like a toothed model of the reel on a push-lawnmower) which churns up the soil and uproots the offending plant.
For tackling weeds which can be rising between the rows, the harrow is solely deployed proper in entrance of the robotic because it strikes ahead. Alternatively, if a weed is noticed rising between crop crops inside a row alongside the robotic, the machine stops and strikes its harrow sideways into the hole.
The AMU-Bot venture is funded by the German Federal Workplace of Agriculture and Meals, and is being coordinated by the Fraunhofer Institute for Manufacturing Engineering and Automation (which additionally designed the height-adjustable rotary harrow). Bosch is creating the navigation and sensory system, and agricultural robotics firm KommTek is answerable for the caterpillar drive system.
There’s at the moment no phrase on when the AMU-Bot could enter service. It may face some competitors, although, as different teams are creating robots that use lasers and electrical pulses to kill weeds.