A team of researchers from the Institute of Geodesy and Geoinformation at the University of Bonn in Germany are currently developing a robotic tool that readily identifies weeds and shoots laser to eliminate them, thus reducing the need to use herbicides. The project received an EXIST Business Start-up Grant from the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy.
The robotic system is slated to use deep learning algorithms to carry out the weeding task. The researchers also look into the possibility that the system might require cameras mounted on an all-terrain robot vehicle to do the weeding. The system might also serve as an add-on equipment to tractors for the same reason. According to researcher Dr. Julio Pastrana, the robotic system will shoot the leaves of unwanted weeds with short laser pulses, which in turn will weaken their vitality. Using the robotic system may potentially reduce the need for herbicides on fields, thus protecting the environment, said researcher Tim Wigbels.