2017-02: EXIST Startup on Laser-Based Weeding Has Started

EXIST-Funded startup focussing on an autonomous laser-based weeding system has started in Feb 2017 at the Photogrammetry & Robotics Lab.

Abstract – For decades, herbicides have been the main means of weed control. The extensive use of chemical substances in agriculture is generating devastating effects on our environment and is also affecting human health. Additionally, several weed varieties have been developing a natural resistance to the applied chemicals, hence new and more potent herbicides have to be developed.
Due to the great ecological and human health effects, the world is demanding chemical free crops from our fields. Laser-based weeding is an excellent non-herbicide solution to weed control that will enable the production of organic certified products.
The proposed system uses multi-spectral sensors and state of the art computer vision algorithms to detect and classify all plants on the field. After identifying the weed plants, a laser beam will be used to eliminate or to seriously damage the weeds. In this way, value crops can grow without the competition from weed and have higher yields because all available nutrients do not have to be shared.
This technology has the potential for installing a new generation of sustainable crop production farms. With the use of the laser-based weeding system at large scales, herbicide use can be substantially reduced. Our goal is that within the foreseeable future this weeding method will be used by every major crop producer, thus, protecting the the environment and the health of the population.

Julio Pastrana (julio.pastrana@nullescarda.net) and Tim Wigbels (tim.wigbels@nullescarda.net)