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British robot putting weeds on notice

New machine has the ability to identify and destroy weeds

By Diego Flammini
Assistant Editor, North American Content

It looks like a small tank, it traverses rugged terrain and has the ability to detect and eliminate the enemy – weeds.

It’s called Ibex, a British robot fitted with a sprayer, and programmed with the ability to identify and spray weeds individually instead of broadcasting herbicide on the whole field.

“This is done by taking tens of thousands of images of weeds, putting them through neural network models and learning to learning to find the features for detection,” said Dr. Charles Fox, Ibex project manager at Hunshelf Hall Farm in an interview with BBC Look North.

The robot’s developers hold demonstrations and discussions with about 40 farmers to get a better understanding of their needs.

“We have a very interested and active user group of local farmers and we’re continually using their advice,” Dr. Fox told

Cameras on the top of the robot act as its eyes while a laptop functions as its brain, learning the characteristics of specific weeds. Using tracks instead of tires are used to help reduce its damage to the field.

Using GPS, the robot can independently determine field routes and has the ability to provide a live video feed should human assistance be necessary.

Dr. Fox said the robot was initially designed to be of military caliber so it could go where other vehicles aren’t able to.

What do you think? Would you consider using a robot to go through your fields and spray your weeds?

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