A Swiss start-up company have introduced a new spot spraying robot which targets weeds which have survived an initial spraying, as reported in futurefarming.com.
The robot, ecoRobotix, is an autonomous and self-propelled driving vehicle, with a range of photovoltaic panels which provide it with solar power. This powers the two electric drive motors on board and equipment, which enable weed identification, navigation, and spraying.
The system is able to detect up to 95% of all weeds, whilst destroying them with minimal effort and chemicals. This is done through precise micro-dosing.
“Our vision is to contribute to the emergence of a form of agriculture that respects the environment, focusing on conservation of the soil and hydrological resources, and using a minimum amount of energy,”, said founder and CEO, Aurélien Demaurex.
“We will do that by developing innovative farming machines that require low energy and reduce the negative ecological impact of modern agriculture, while keeping costs competitive.”, he added.
- The ecoRobotix device is fitted with multi-link arms, which can make up to 4,000 movements every minute. This allows for the accurate positioning of the spray nozzle, which then allows for a targeted micro dose of herbicide.
- The robot weighs in at 130kgs and is fitted with a camera, a GNSS navigation system and an artificial vision system. This artificial vision system enables the detection of crop rows and weeds, while the spraying system then applies herbicides.
- The ecoRobotix is also fitted with a pair of multi-link arms which are suspended beneath the photovoltaic cells. These move quickly backwards, forwards and sideways to position the sprayer above targeted plants. They span 2m (6ft 6in) or 4 rows spaced 30-50cm (12-20in) apart. This is enough to cover up to 3 hectares (7.5 acres) a day at the machine’s 0.4 metre/second (1ft/sec) average speed.
To date, the start-up has succeeded in using detection and control systems for sugar beet and oilseed rape growth. They are also developing further upgrades for use on other crops. It is expected these will be introduced by the end of the year.