Scientists Plan to Destroy Weeds With Laser Equipped Robots

Posted on June 19, 2017

German scientists developing weed recognition software

German scientists are developing lasers that could be used by robots to kill weeds. Dr. Julio Pastrana and Tim Wigbels from the Institute of Geodesy and Geoinformation at the University of Bonn envision robots that could automatically identify weeds in a field and then destroy the weeds with a short laser pulse. They are pictured above happily working on their weed recognition software.

Dr. Pastrana says in the announcement, "The robot shoots the leaves of the unwanted plants with short laser pulses, which causes a weakening in their vitality. It is thus predicted that we will no longer need to use herbicides on our fields and the environment will be protected."

The German scientists have created a start-up called Escarda Technologies to develop their weed killing prototype. The weed recognition software will be crucial to make sure crops are not accidentally destroyed by the robot. The software will detect weeds and analyze how the laser system is damaging and destroying them.

The Escarda site says, "Laser beams, if directed towards weeds, can be used as an effective weed control method. They can deliver high-density energy on selected spots, which will burn the plant tissue, leading to the death of the plant." The site says eliminating weeds quickly helps the crops grow without competition from the weeds. It also says the method is eco-friendly and does not depend on soil conditions.

Image: University of Bonn
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