Where were you when I was little and I had to dig long beet furrows? One of the operators of “Panorama” really called out when he went to film the technology exhibition “Riga Comm” and saw the weed control device created under the auspices of the Latvia University of Agriculture (LLU) or simply Robi, as the researchers themselves call it. It is a moving robot that is able to distinguish crops from weeds and destroy the latter.
A slight, almost imperceptible movement to the right or left and within seconds or two the computer recognizes the weed and destroys it.
Large weeds are rotated, small ones are burned.
“Similar to fiction movies, where a powerful laser burns through walls or which, in this case we have less power, but just as much heats up or completely cuts through the leaves of the plant,”
said Jānis Jaško, a researcher at the LLU Scientific Institute.
At the LLU Scientific Institute Agrihorts he worked on a weed robot for a year and a half. The biggest pride of the researchers is precisely the robot’s ability to recognize weeds, because a unique program based on artificial intelligence has been created.
“We’ve trained the computer how to look beets, carrots.
He has learned 6 crops. We have also taught several of the most popular weeds in Latvia. Taking a picture, after what we have trained, he is able to tell with quite high accuracy who is a carrot, which is a beet and which is a weed that he should destroy, “Jaško said.
The researchers calculated that Robis could work in the field at the same speed as a human, grubbing an average of 200 to 600 meters per hour. Similar devices already available are less accurate. If the crop and the weed grow close together, the device can uproot them both. Robis won’t do it.
“The amount of money farmers have to spend to pay for manual labor is in the tens of millions in Europe. In negotiations with farmers, which they emphasize, manual labor is becoming more expensive every year and increasingly difficult to access. Fewer and fewer people want to work in agriculture, which is physically difficult. The third aspect that comes up is the new Covid-19 situation, which makes it even more difficult for agricultural workers to travel from one country to another, “said Jasko.
The built-in GPS antennas and computer program will allow Rob to be programmed so that he leaves the field of equipment himself and then returns to the warehouse.
Researchers estimate that this weed robot could enter industrial production in about three years.
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