Carbon Robotics, a Seattle company led by Isilon Systems co-founder Paul Mikesell, is unveiling its self-driving robot that uses artificial intelligence to identify weeds growing in fields of vegetables, then zaps them with precision thermal bursts from lasers. GeekWire reports: [W]hat farmers need is less a revolution in farming methods than a revolutionary tool that fits into their current farming patterns, Mikesell said. Carbon worked closely with farmers in eastern Oregon and southern Idaho, he said. As a result, Carbon’s robot system — the Autonomous Weeder — was built about the size of a medium tractor so it would fit in the furrows between rows of common crops like onions and sweet potatoes.
It can cover up to 16 acres of cropland a day, zapping as many as 100,000 weeds an hour, Mikesell said. And since it’s self-driving, all a farmer has to do is take it to the field in the morning and turn it on. “We’re really intent on not making farmers have to change how they’re doing things,” Mikesell said. “That’s been a key to our success. We fit right into their operations.”
Carbon has sold out all the robots it built for the 2021 planting season, and is looking for an industrial partner who could help it build more units for 2022, Mikesell said. The company is looking to get into the hundreds of units built and shipped for next year, he said. “There’s a demand for a lot more than that, tens or hundreds of thousands of them.”
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