Will weed-zapping AI robots disrupt market for herbicides and GMO seeds? Genetic Literacy Project


In a field of sugar beet in Switzerland, a solar-powered robot that looks like a table on wheels scans the rows of crops with its camera, identifies weeds and zaps them with jets of blue liquid from its mechanical tentacles. Undergoing final tests before the liquid is replaced with weedkiller, the Swiss robot is one of new breed of AI weeders that investors say could disrupt the $100 billion pesticides and seeds industry by reducing the need for universal herbicides and the genetically modified (GM) crops that tolerate them. Dominated by companies such as Bayer, DowDuPont, BASF and Syngenta, the industry is bracing for the impact of digital agricultural technology and some firms are already adapting their business models. Herbicide sales are worth $26 billion a year and account for 46 percent of pesticides revenue overall while 90 percent of GM seeds have some herbicide tolerance built in, according to market researcher Phillips McDougall. The company said it is close to signing a financing round with investors and is due to go on the market by early 2019.

Bayer contains cyberattack it says bore Chinese hallmarks

The Japan Times

FRANKFURT, GERMANY - German drugmaker Bayer has contained a cyber attack it believes was hatched in China, the company said, highlighting the risk of data theft and disruption faced by big business. Bayer found the infectious software on its computer networks early last year, covertly monitored and analyzed it until the end of last month and then cleared the threat from its systems, the company said on Thursday. "There is no evidence of data theft," Bayer said in a statement, though a spokesman added that the overall damage was still being assessed and that German state prosecutors had launched an investigation. "This type of attack points towards the'Wicked Panda' group in China, according to security experts," the spokesman added, citing DCSO, a cybersecurity group set up by Bayer in 2015 with German partners Allianz, BASF and Volkswagen. Third-party personal data were also not compromised, the spokesman said.

Real World Deep Learning: Neural Networks for Smart Crops


To produce high-quality food and feed a growing world population with the given amount of arable land in a sustainable manner, we must develop new methods of sustainable farming that increase yield while minimizing chemical inputs such as fertilizers, herbicides, and pesticides. I and my colleagues are working on a robotics-centered approaches to address this grand challenge. My name is Andres Milioto, and I am a research assistant and Ph.D. student in robotics at the Photogrammetry and Robotics Lab (http://www.ipb.uni-bonn.de) Together with Philipp Lottes, Nived Chebrolu, and our supervisor Prof. Dr. Cyrill Stachniss we are developing an adaptable ground and aerial robots for smart farming in the context of the EC-funded project "Flourish" (http://flourish-project.eu/), where we collaborate with several other Universities and industry partners across Europe. The Flourish consortium is committed to develop new robotic methods for sustainable farming that aim at minimizing chemical inputs such as fertilizers, herbicides, and pesticides in order to reduce the side-effects on our environment.

In the papers: Bayer, Ocado, YouTube


The Times Bayer bets the farm in 66 billion Monsanto deal: An American pioneer of genetically modified seeds has struck a 66 billion takeover deal with Bayer, the German chemicals giant, in the latest round of megadeal consolidations in agricultural production. Lawyers set to pass M&A paperwork to machines: Luminance, a start-up backed by Mike Lynch, the British technology investor, is aiming to reduce the time taken on due diligence that accompanies multimillion-pound M&A deals from weeks to days or even hours using a new form of artificial intelligence. Public sector job numbers plunge to record low: Employment in the public sector has fallen to a record low as private sector jobs surge ahead despite Brexit, official figures have shown. Mortgage lending falls in wake of Brexit vote: The number of mortgages advanced for house purchases fell in the first month after Britain's decision to leave the European Union. Miner in'bribery scandal' intends to quit AIM: An Africa-focused mining company that has been caught up in a bribery scandal is planning to delist its shares.

Use Of Drones & Robotics In Agriculture – DEEP AERO DRONES – Medium


Bees are getting extinct due to variety of issues such as: pollution, pesticides, fungicides, climate change, etc. Lately Walmart applied for patent with the U.S. Patent Office for drone pollinators designed to fly from plant to plant, collecting pollen from one and transferring to other. Robotics is already being implemented in strawberry harvesting, fresh-fruit picking, data mapping and seeding. The autonomous tractors might also capture a commonplace. Recently, an interactive presentation at Colorado State University, shared the overview of future of farming by the presenters Raj Khosla and Tom McKinnon. Khosla discussed the 5 R's of precision agriculture: "at the right time, in the right amount, at the right place, use of the right input, in the right manner."