Lettuce-Bot Weed-Killing Robot Funded

A weed-killing robot called Lettuce-Bot under development by Stanford University alumni has just received $3.1 million in funding from Khosla Ventures. The company, Blue River Technology, is developing a device intended to compete with chemical-intensive agriculture.

The device uses computer vision techniques to identify weeds, and then uses more direct methods like carefully targeted steam to kill weeds, and leave healthy desirable plants like lettuce alone.

Crops like lettuce are ordinarily thinned and weeded by hand using hoes. Teams of 20-30 people comb lettuce fields to accomplish this process without herbicides - a very labor-intensive process.

(The future of organic farming)

“We intend to invest the proceeds of this round in growing our engineering team and accelerating our new product roadmap,” said Jorge Heraud, co-founder and CEO of Blue River Technology. “Our culture fosters extreme innovation aimed at real-world problems. We are looking for passionate engineers to advance the boundaries of computer vision, machine learning and robotics and help us reinvent food production. ”

“With global population expected to increase to 9.5 billion by 2050, increasing food production in a sustainable way is going to be one of the great challenges of this century,” said Vinod Khosla, founder of Khosla Ventures. “Blue River Technology’s solution will not only be more cost effective than current solutions, but has the potential to reduce U.S. herbicide use by over 250 million pounds a year.”

(Computer vision detects and distinguishes individual desirable plants)

Farm robot enthusiasts enjoyed the agricultural robot pest controller from Michael Crichton's 1985 film Runaway.

(>Runaway agbot!)

Philip K. Dick fans may also recall the robot gardener from his 1955 story War Veteran.

Pick one of these agricultural robot links:

Also, if you are interested in machine vision, you should take a look at this very early reference to computer vision from The Metal Giants, a 1926 short story by Edmond Hamilton.

I'd also like to point out that I've turned comments back on and the contact form is also open.

From Blue River Technology and Business Wire via Future Timeline.

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