If you’ve ever driven to Chicago in a Northerly direction, you’d notice that the majority of Illinois is farmland. This is part of the inspiration behind the University of Illinois’ new robot-aided herbicide system. The idea is to have robots with GPS, a “custom-designed end effector”, herbicide nozzle, and an on-board computer used to locate weeds. These robowhackers move down the lines of crop and seek out and destroy pesky weeds. The robot would locate the weed, cut it down, and then spray herbicide down its wriggling stump of a throat. According to Lei Tian, agricultural engineer and architect of this project, “This type of application is extremely effective because it applies herbicide directly to the plant, instead of broadcasting uniform rates across a field.” Eventually, the engineers would like to use the robot for more than just weeding, perhaps for taking soil samples or recording plant conditions.
New Robot System Could Drastically Reduce Herbicide Use [Terra Daily via Dvorak]