Coming Soon To A Field Near You: A Robot Weed Whacker
California-based Blue River Technology has raised over $3 million to commercialize its robot weedkiller, which works using a combination of machine learning and computer vision.
Article written by guest writer Kecia Lynn
What's the Latest Development?
Blue River Technology, a Silicon Valley startup, has received funding that will let it bring to market a highly specialized robot that kills weeds using cameras and a set of mathematical algorithms that sound relatively simple: If it's a plant, and the plant is a weed, then kill it (in this case via an injection of fertilizer). Moving at one mile an hour, the machine is accurate to within one-quarter of an inch. The company wants to get it to an accuracy rate of within one-half of an inch at 3 miles an hour.
What's the Big Idea?
The robot is able to simulate human behavior to the point where weedkilling chemicals aren't necessary, making it ideal for organic farms and dangerous to the multibillion-dollar pesticide industry. For better or worse, it will be a while before these robots take over agriculture. Each robot is programmed to kill a certain set of weeds for a certain type of crop; new algorithms would need to be created to identify different weeds and crops. However, "with he growing number of people to feed, and the threat of pesticides...figuring out a cheaper and less chemically intense method of farming is an area where the brains behind machine learning can make the world a better place."
Photo Credit: Shutterstock.com
Jonathan Zimmerman explains why teachers should invite, not censor, tough classroom debates.
- During times of war or national crisis in the U.S., school boards and officials are much more wary about allowing teachers and kids to say what they think.
- If our teachers avoid controversial questions in the classroom, kids won't get the experience they need to know how to engage with difficult questions and with criticism.
- Jonathan Zimmerman argues that controversial issues should be taught in schools as they naturally arise. Otherwise kids will learn from TV news what politics looks like – which is more often a rant than a healthy debate.
Controversial map names CEOs of 100 companies producing 71 percent of the world's greenhouse gas emissions.
- Just 100 companies produce 71 percent of the world's greenhouse gases.
- This map lists their names and locations, and their CEOs.
- The climate crisis may be too complex for these 100 people to solve, but naming and shaming them is a good start.
It marks another milestone in SpaceX's long-standing effort to make spaceflight cheaper.
- SpaceX launched Falcon Heavy into space early Tuesday morning.
- A part of its nosecone – known as a fairing – descended back to Earth using special parachutes.
- A net-outfitted boat in the Atlantic Ocean successfully caught the reusable fairing, likely saving the company millions of dollars.
SMARTER FASTER trademarks owned by The Big Think, Inc. All rights reserved.