The world’s first fleet of autonomous robots is likely to become commercially available for the farmers of the United Kingdom in just two years. The robots will help in scanning plants, killing weeds and drilling crops.
Salisbury-based Small Robot Company is developing three autonomous farmbots – Tom, Dick and Harry.
Sam Watson Jones, co-founder of the group termed it a remarkable technological milestone for British agriculture.
Robot Tom would provide growers with an individual plant view of fields, capable of detecting broad-leaved weeds in wheat fields and mapping their exact location, according to the company’s claims.
Roughly after a year, this robot will be scaled up in order to ensure greater weed control without any chemicals.
“Take blackgrass control, for instance, control is becoming increasingly problematic with many chemicals now resistant. Farmers are now manually rouging fields, with weeds often missed due to human error which cause problems for the future,” Jones said.
According to the co-founder, the weed-mapping service will help in identifying and removing every single blackgrass plant. The technology also categorizes the weeds on the basis of their environmental benefits.
“With the help of artificial intelligence, we are able to determine risk tolerance versus the environmental benefit of weeds. Some offer food sources for beneficial insects or have positive impacts on soil health, helping to enhance biodiversity,” Jones added.
With the help of mapping data, the second robot – Dick – would kill the weeds using electrically charged pulses.
Sources said the company has partnered with Rootwave, an electronic weed control group in order to develop the weed zapping robot.
The third robot, Harry will plant crops autonomously. The farmbot will also help the farmers in the prevention of soil erosion and runoff thanks to its no-till robotics system.