Sunday, April 29, 2012

Today it’s the weeds …

Staying with the “1984” theme … I’ve just finished reading an item in Biophotonics about work on a laser weeding system. This is directed towards creating an agricultural robot, (an “agribot”?) that, equipped with stereo vision, will roam fields looking for weeds. Then, when such interlopers are discovered, rather than administer a dose of chemicals, the robot will “zap” them with a laser beam.

Sadly, despite trawling through the website of the research body – the Laser Zentrum Hannover – I’ve been unable to find any details of the vision system, although I do recall writing posts about similar systems in the past: “Detecting weeds with LabVIEW-based machine vision” (October 2010,) described similar work being carried out in the Netherlands.

This all sounds very useful, though I can’t help thinking it could be extended into pest control, and maybe even rodent extermination. Such robots are probably better designed as bipeds rather than wheeled or tracked vehicles as that will give them better mobility over uneven terrain, and they’d need to be fast to catch and destroy their prey.

Today it’s the weeds, tomorrow the pests, and after that? Have I just described a Terminator?

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