One of a gardener’s or a farmer’s biggest challenges is weed control. The process is time-consuming, especially over large areas. Besides, you have to rely on traditional methods like mechanical or hand weeding and applying herbicides sometimes.
Herbicides may seem effective, but they impact the general health of crops and soils.
Similarly, mechanical weeding damages plants, and hand weeding is labor-intensive. But one method that has been getting traction in recent years is using weeding robots.
So what are weeding robots, and do they work?
Weeding robots are automated tools that move freely on the ground eliminating weeds. They use different technologies to find weeds, differentiate them from plants, and eliminate them.
For example, some weeding robots use laser technology, and others have proximity sensors. However, their primary goal is to remove unwanted plants without disturbing the good plants.
What is an autonomous weeding robot?
An autonomous weeding robot is a weeder that uses robotics, artificial intelligence, and sometimes laser technology or sensors to identify, target, and eliminate weeds from a lawn, garden, or farm.
The robotic weeder safely moves through crop fields to cut unwanted plants without damaging good plants or disturbing the soil.
Autonomous weeding robots have high-powered lasers that strike weeds, thus preventing them from growing further. Also, the machines use thermal energy in the process. As a result, they prevent physical tilling, which tends to disturb the soil.
But not all autonomous weeding robots use laser technology. Some have sensors that detect the length of a good plant and unwanted plant.
The machines will then eliminate weeds that are shorter to a specific length and leave the good crops untouched.
So, how are autonomous weeding robots powered? These weed eliminators have different power mechanisms, including electricity and solar
Regardless of the type of weeding robot, the advantage is that they can move freely throughout the garden and remove weeds for hours, whether during the day or night.
While some weeding robots use blades to cut down weeds, others have sprays with added herbicides. The machines will target a crop and spray the herbicide on the unwanted weed.
How weeding robots work
The mechanism by which weeding robots work depends on the type of robot and the technology used.
Many companies in the industry have patented their technologies to make their devices unique. Thus, the best way of determining how the machines work depends on the robot.
Here are is how five robots that are used for weeding work.
1. Tertill weeding robot
The Tertill weeding robot is small in size and ideal for areas of up to 200 square feet. It uses solar energy to power up and move.
The robot also has three wheels that propel it, string nylon to cut weeds, and a sensor.
The sensor detects plants at least two inches tall when the robot is in use. The mower will not touch any plant that is two inches or more. Instead, the string nylon will cut the rest.
RIPPA is a solar-powered weeding robot with a high-speed camera, precision herbicide sprayers, and remote sensing. It collects data using the camera mounted at the top.
When the sensor detects a weed, the precision sprayers precisely spray them with high accuracy.
The automatic weeding machine can move through a large area of up to three hectares.
HortiBot is a self-propelled weeding robot that uses GPS to eliminate weeds.
The robot works by recognizing 25 different types of weeds and destroying them using its weed-removing attachments.
4. Autonomous Laserweeder
Autonomous Laserweeder uses cameras to scan the entire field.
Then, as it moves throughout the farm, its computer vision systems use artificial intelligence to determine if the plant in front is a weed or a wanted crop.
If it is a weed, it will use a laser to fire the plant and explode its cells.
5. Lettuce Bot
The Lettuce Bot is a weeding robot with an in-built camera. It uses the camera to scan the field to identify each sprout as a weed or lettuce image.
After identifying an unwanted plant, it sprays a targeted jet of herbicide on it to prevent its growth.
6. Bakus by Vitibot
Vitibot is a company engaged in the manufacture of robotic weed control machines. Most of its robotic weeders only target vineyards.
Bakus is an autonomous vineyard straddler that uses GPS to move throughout a plantation. When it is operating, the robot will detect any plant that is not a vine and eliminate it.
What are the pros and cons of weeding robots?
Weeding robots have several pros and cons.
- Cost-effective, including maintenance and ongoing costs.
- The machines work on a repetitive cycle.
- They do not damage plants.
- Help increase productivity.
- Most weeding robots can work on any terrain.
- They help reduce material waste.
- Are accurate in eliminating weeds.
- They can operate without human input.
- Eliminate weeds without disturbing the soil or water.
- They are easy to use.
- They can cover small to large areas fast.
- The robots work day and night in all conditions.
Weeding robots also help save time and energy for the farmer or gardener, allowing them to concentrate on other farming activities.
- Some weeding robots are expensive to purchase.
- Robots that use electricity can be inconvenient in rural areas and large farms.
Some robots also require a lot of money to maintain.
Are weeding tools worth it?
Weeding robots have a high accuracy in eliminating weeds. So far, the technologies used in the machines have shown that gardeners or large-scale farmers can rely on them to remove unwanted plants from their fields.
Furthermore, they help address some of farming’s or gardening’s most critical issues, including the overuse of chemicals, process efficiency, and labor.
However, most of these gadgets are still in testing. A few of those that have been released have not been tested exhaustively by homeowners and farmers. This means there isn’t enough data to support their effect.
Weeding robots are now changing the way farmers or gardeners control weeds. The autonomous machines remove weeds using different technologies, including laser, sensors, cameras, and GPS. The technologies work by determining the type of plant in front and taking the necessary action.
Carla is a student pursuing a B.S in Agricultural Systems Technology. With a passion for landscaping for over 4 years, Carla loves plants. She has previously contributed to several other sites in the space before joining InsightWeeds.