Titanic robots make farming more sustainable

Posted by

There’s a lot riding on farmers’ ability to fight weeds, which can strangle crops and destroy yields. To protect crops, farmers have two options: They can spray herbicides that pollute the environment and harm human health, or they can hire more workers.

Unfortunately, both choices are becoming less tenable. Herbicide resistance is a growing problem in crops around the world, while widespread labor shortages have hit the agricultural sector particularly hard.

Now the startup FarmWise, co-founded by Sebastien Boyer SM ’16, is giving farmers a third option. The company has developed autonomous weeding robots that use artificial intelligence to cut out weeds while leaving crops untouched.

The company’s first robot, fittingly called the Titan — picture a large tractor that makes use of a trailer in lieu of a driver’s seat — uses machine vision to distinguish weeds from crops including leafy greens, cauliflower, artichokes, and tomatoes while snipping weeds with sub-inch precision.

About 15 Titans have been roaming the fields of 30 large farms in California and Arizona for the last few years, providing weeding as a service while being directed by an iPad. Last month, the company unveiled its newest robot, Vulcan, which is more lightweight and pulled by a tractor.

“We have growing population, and we can’t expand the land or water we have, so we need to drastically increase the efficiency of the farming industry,” Boyer says. “I think AI and data are going to be major players in that journey.”

More: https://news.mit.edu/2023/titanic-robots-farming-more-sustainable-0309

 

FiveWordsForTheFuture - Oct 1, 2023 | Agriculture, Robotics, Sustainability
Tagged | , , , ,