The robot killer than can take out weeds with a single jet blast of chemical

Daily Mail

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 $100billion 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 $26billion 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. 'Some of the profit pools that are now in the hands of the big agrochemical companies will shift, partly to the farmer and partly to the equipment manufacturers,' said Cedric Lecamp, who runs the $1billion Pictet-Nutrition fund that invests in companies along the food supply chain.


Insight: Robots fight weeds in challenge to agrochemical giants

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YVERDON-LES-BAINS, Switzerland/CHICAGO: 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 US$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 US$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. "Some of the profit pools that are now in the hands of the big agrochemical companies will shift, partly to the farmer and partly to the equipment manufacturers," said Cedric Lecamp, who runs the US$1 billion Pictet-Nutrition fund that invests in companies along the food supply chain.


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

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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.


A Swiss weedkiller robot could curb our dependence on herbicides

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Researchers at the University of Illinois have developed a Roomba-like robot that can tend to crops autonomously. At Carnegie Mellon, they're building a suite of A.I. and drones to take on some of agriculture's most demanding tasks. And just last year, a team of automated machines farmed an acre and a half of barley, from planting to harvesting, without a single human setting foot on the field. A Swiss company called ecoRobotix recently unveiled its contribution to automated agriculture -- a robotic weed-killing machine. The four-wheeled robot doesn't look like much more than a mobile table top, but Reuters reports that the unassuming machine may reshape the way we approach agriculture.


John Deere advancing machine learning in agriculture sector

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The food and agriculture chain is one of the most promising industries where the Internet of Things (IoT) can bring about transformational changes. And this transformation includes building smart farm machines to manage crops at the plant level. To that end, John Deere Labs, which opened its doors earlier this year, made its first major deal on September 6, spending $305 million to acquire Blue River Technology, a startup with computer vision and machine learning technology that can identify weeds–making it possible to spray herbicides only where they're needed. Currently, on a global basis, $25 billion is spent each year on about 3.0 billion pounds of herbicides. This has resulted in over 250 species of weeds now considered resistant to herbicides.