Samstag, 18. November 2017
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Robot automatically identifies weeds

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Combatting unwanted plants with lasers: sustainable agriculture could benefit from new smart idea

2017-11-03

Those who want a rich harvest need to drive back weeds so that the crops can grow better. In organic agriculture, herbicides are ruled out as they are considered toxic chemicals, and unwanted plants must be laboriously weeded out. This time-consuming work can soon be taken care of by robots.

 - Tim Wigbels (left) and Dr. Julio Pastrana with their weed recognition software which is detecting a plant and how the laser system is shooting and damage its foliage.
© Volker Lannert/Uni Bonn
Tim Wigbels (left) and Dr. Julio Pastrana with their weed recognition software which is detecting a plant and how the laser system is shooting and damage its foliage.

The robots automatically could identify weeds in a field and combat them with a short laser pulse. Sustainable agriculture, which avoids the use of herbicides as far as possible, could benefit from this smart idea. Dr. Julio Pastrana and Tim Wigbels from the Institute of Geodesy and Geoinformation at the University of Bonn are convinced of this. The computer scientists in the Photogrammetry Laboratory at the Institute for Geodesy and Geoinformation in Bonn are currently developing a novel system: using cameras on an all-terrain robot vehicle or even a tractor add-on, unwanted wild weeds should be automatically identified in the various crops and combatted in a targeted way.

“The robot shoots the leaves of the unwanted plants with short laser pulses, which causes a weakening in their vitality,” reports Dr. Pastrana. “It is thus predicted that we will no longer need to use herbicides on our fields and the environment will be protected,” adds Wigbels. “The idea combines innovative robots with a current sustainability topic,” says Rüdiger Wolf from Technology Transfer at the University of Bonn. The analyses of the market and competition for such an application are sound, he says. Pastrana is convinced of the benefits of the laser-based technique for new agricultural machinery: “Our aim is to contribute to achieving more sustainable agriculture.”