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Nova Scotia startup wins agBOT Challenge

Nova Scotia startup wins agBOT Challenge

Nexus Robotics developed a robot capable of removing weeds

By Diego Flammini
Staff Writer
Farms.com

A small agribusiness from Nova Scotia took home top prize at an ag robotics challenge in Rockville, Ind.

Nexus Robotics won US$30,000 in the 2018 agBOT Challenge’s Weed & Feed Competition.

The company developed a robot capable of physically removing weeds from corn fields. The robot uses artificial intelligence to memorize images of weeds and differentiate between weeds and crops within a field.

“Weeds are a big problem,” Dr. Thomas Trappenberg, a computer science professor at Dalhousie University and member of Nexus Robotics, told News 95.7 yesterday. “With many crops we have chemical sprays … but with other crops, like vegetables, it is very difficult to use herbicides. We decided to build a robot which can physically get rid of weeds.”

The robot can also help with weeds that are resistant to herbicides, he said.

Nexus Robotics will reinvest its winnings into the company for further product development.

For the purposes of the agBOT Challenge, the company’s goal was to have the robot successfully remove weeds. Now, Nexus is looking to take that objective ne step further.

“We have a lot of big plans for the summer,” Trappenberg said.

The Nexus team plans to make the robot capable of distinguishing between weeds and enacting specific removal practices for specific weed types, he added.

This kind of robotic technology can also help producers who struggle to find a dedicated workforce.

“I think we will be enabling new ventures to farm in areas where just the labour would be prohibitive,” he said.

Nova Scotia’s agBOT marks the third straight year a Canadian agribusiness has won the Weed & Feed Competition. Teams from the University of Regina won the competition in 2016 and 2017.

Farms.com has reached out to Dr. Trappenberg for further insight on the winning robot.