The eradication of weeds in gardens is a difficult task, but it is even more difficult for farmers who grow large-scale crops and harvest them, according tomedia New Atlas. The new robots, which will be tested next year, could help them keep up to date, for example by removing unwanted plants with electric shocks.
The new robot is a product of Small Robot, a British start-up that last year launched three micro-robots, called Tom, Dick and Harry. These are designed to automate certain agricultural tasks, making processes more cost-effective and sustainable.
Small Robot has now shared some new details on Dick. It uses commercial weeding technology developed by Rootwave, another British start-up. The technology uses electricity to completely remove weeds from the roots from the inside out.
The main benefit of these “lightning strikes” is that the method completely avoids the use of chemicals and better protects biodiversity and soil quality for future farmers. The idea is that Tom first creates crop maps and identifies weeds, and then sends Dick to use Tom’s automatic navigation system and data to spot weeds to eliminate the threat.
“This is really the first time in the world,” says Sam Watson-Jones, co-founder of Small Robot. “For the first time, we could see every plant in the field – and every weed. In addition to spraying the entire field, we can also simply remove a single weed. Farmers are an integral part of environmental solutions. It is critical that we develop technology on the farm to ensure that it generates real benefits on the ground. Together, we will create the ultimate sustainable agricultural model. “
Next year the company will work with the UK’s National Trust, Wim Estatepole and Waitrose Leckford Estate, to trial weeding robots on 20 farms in the UK. Small Robot hopes to provide business services by 2021.