Alphabet, Google’s parent company, has unveiled its latest Moonshot project for X Labs,media techCrunch reported. A robotic off-road vehicle for crop cruises can examine each plant individually and, perhaps, generate the “big data” needed for agriculture to meet the needs of the hungry world.
The project is called Mineral and has no hidden meaning. The team just thinks minerals are really important to agriculture. X Labs announced in a blog post that Mineral is still in the experimental phase. When the team saw that the importance of sustainable food production was increasing year by year, agricultural digitalization efforts did not succeed as expected, it was born.
“These new streams are either overwhelming or cannot measure the complexity of agriculture, so they are back to tradition, instinct or habit,” writes Elliott Grant, mineral’s director. What we need is something more comprehensive and convenient.
Just as Google’s original idea was to index and organize the information across the network, Grant and the team imagined what might happen if each plant in the field were measured and adjusted individually.
The way to do this, they argue, is “Plant buggy”, a machine that intelligently and relentlessly patrols the fields, carrying out cumbersome and repetitive inspections without stopping. With reliable plant-to-plant data, growers can also start solutions on this scale — fertilize here and spray very special insecticides.
They are not the first team to have such a similar idea. FarmWise raised a lot of money last year, expanding from self-pulling to a full-featured plant intelligence platform.