Artificial Intelligence: Blue River’s Massive Robots For Precision Spraying Weeds

August 13, 2020 | Artificial Intelligence, News

Smart machines using artificial intelligence are making farmers’ lives easier.

A growing world population is placing increasing demand for food on existing resources such as land, water, and nutrients. Add to this the challenges from climate change, plant disease, and attacks from pests and weeds. Agricultural output is under pressure at a time of rising demand, and the race is on to find agricultural methods, technology, and tools to enhance farming efficiency. At Blue River Technology, a subsidiary of John Deere (NYSE: DE), they are building smart agricultural robots that precisely spray weeds with herbicide in real-time. (

Blue River Technology agricultural robots

Pictured above is a 2017 prototype of See & Spray, Blue River Technology’s precision weed control machine.

Nowadays, the company’s weeding robots apply a variety of technologies in their mission to identify and spray weeds. Cameras, computer vision, machine learning, and robotics combine to make these machines as smart as they are big. Using AutoTrac, the machines navigate through an agricultural field and quickly spray only the weeds in their path. However, they leave the crop plants untouched and intact.

The sophisticated, high-resolution cameras mounted on the weeding robot collect images as the machine moves along the field.

AI known as a conventional neural network (CNN) rapidly identifies the weeds in the images and creates a target map of weeds in the field.

The robot thereafter sprays only the weeds.

Since the entire process of identification and spraying takes place in real-time and on the machine without recourse to the cloud, imagine its brute computing strength.

“The total computing power onboard the robot just dedicated to visual inference and spray robotics is on par with IBM’s supercomputer, Blue Gene (2007),” writes Chris Padwick, Director of Computer Vision and Machine Learning at Blue River Technology. “This makes this a machine with some of the highest compute capacity of any moving machine in the world!”

Herbicide-tolerant weeds

According to the Blue River website, farmers around the world spend $25 billion annually to buy 3 billion pounds of herbicides to apply on 250 species of weeds.

Unfortunately, with the rise of herbicide-tolerant weeds, there are fewer and fewer effective solutions for their eradication. With over-application, weeds become herbicide-tolerant and can hurt farmers’ crops as well as their livelihood.

However, using AI-powered, precision spraying farmers can dramatically reduce the quantum of herbicide without losing efficacy.

Related Story:    Pivot Bio, Potential Disruptor of Synthetic Fertilizers, Collects $100M

Free Industry News

Subscribe to our free newsletter for updates and news about alternatives investments.

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.


Latest Alternative Investment News
FinTech: China Tightens Antitrust Regulatory Screws On Fintechs
January 22, 2021     FinTech, Latest News, News, Regulations

The People’s Bank of China published a draft set of rules on Wednesday for anti-trust regulation of the non-bank payment providers in the fintech sector. The draft is in the…
Digital Assets: BlackRock Dips Its Toes In Bitcoin Waters
January 22, 2021     Digital Assets, Latest News, News

Filings out Wednesday show that the BlackRock Strategic Income Opportunities Portfolio and BlackRock Global Allocation Fund may invest in cash-settled bitcoin futures, among other assets. BlackRock (NYSE: BLK), the world’s…
Artificial Intelligence: AI Helping Manage Wind Farms By Forecasting Wind Conditions
January 22, 2021     Artificial Intelligence, News

AI is playing an increasingly bigger role in the management of wind energy, wind farms, and the maintenance of wind turbines through machine condition monitoring systems. Google (NASDAQ: GOOGL) predicts…
Alternative Investments/ESG: Harvest Portfolios Launches The Harvest Clean Energy ETF

Harvest Portfolios Group Inc. completed last week the initial offering of Class A Units of the Harvest Clean Energy ETF (TSE: HCLN). The units of the ETF commenced trading on…