Skip to main content

Bosch’s new weed-murdering robot could eliminate the need for herbicides

weed picking robot bosch bonirob2
Image used with permission by copyright holder
Startup Deepfield Robotics is working with German technology and services company Bosch to develop the ultimate farm hand. The robot, called Bonirob, will reduce the environmental impact of farming by optimizing fertilization and monitoring crop growth. It also will make farm work easier and greener by automating the weeding process without the use of controversial herbicides.

About the size of a compact tractor, the Bonirob will scan fields and monitor crops as they grow. All the scanning and sampling is processed in situ allowing the farmer to obtain this information right away, and removing the need to send samples to a laboratory and wait for the results.  The machine can tell farmers how much water and fertilizer to add to their crops as well as provide valuable information about whether the plants are resistant to known pests.

Besides growth monitoring, the Bonirob can also help farmers with one of their most arduous chores — weeding. Using machine learning, the Bonirob is being taught how to identify weeds ad destroy them before they have a negative effect on a growing crop. Using imaging, Bonirob can examine leaf color, shape and size as it weeds out those plants that are not wanted in the field. Weeds are then removed mechanically, avoiding the use of potentially dangerous herbicides.

The robot’s weeding mechanism is a ramming rod that crushes the unwanted weeds so the desired crop can flourish. According to Deepfield communications head Birgit Schulz, the Bonirob was more than 90 percent effective in carrot cultivation trials. In areas where hand cultivation is still needed, the Bonirob can use its crop data to direct workers to areas that need the most weeding.

The Bonirob is a joint project between Deepfield Robotics, Bausch, Osnabrück University of Applied Sciences, and Amazone. Amazone originally developed the Bonirob and showcased the field robot at the 2011 Agritechnica show. This latest Bonirob is an iteration of the previous device that has been upgraded for weeding and other applications. The public project is being funded by Germany’s Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture. The company is offering the technology for research purposes, and farmers may have to wait a while before they can purchase a unit for use in the field. Deepfield expects it robots will transform the farming industry in 20 to 30 years.

Kelly Hodgkins
Kelly's been writing online for ten years, working at Gizmodo, TUAW, and BGR among others. Living near the White Mountains of…
4 simple pieces of tech that helped me run my first marathon
Garmin Forerunner 955 Solar displaying pace information.

The fitness world is littered with opportunities to buy tech aimed at enhancing your physical performance. No matter your sport of choice or personal goals, there's a deep rabbit hole you can go down. It'll cost plenty of money, but the gains can be marginal -- and can honestly just be a distraction from what you should actually be focused on. Running is certainly susceptible to this.

A few months ago, I ran my first-ever marathon. It was an incredible accomplishment I had no idea I'd ever be able to reach, and it's now going to be the first of many I run in my lifetime. And despite my deep-rooted history in tech, and the endless opportunities for being baited into gearing myself up with every last product to help me get through the marathon, I went with a rather simple approach.

Read more
This bracelet helps you fall asleep faster and sleep longer

This content was produced in partnership with Apollo Neuroscience.
Have you been struggling to get the recommended seven hours of sleep? It's always frustrating when you get in bed at a reasonable time, then toss and turn for a hours before you actually sleep. The quality of that sleep is important too. If you're waking up multiple times during the night, you're likely not getting the quality REM cycle sleep that truly rejuvenates your body. If traditional remedies like herbal teas and noise machines just aren't helping, maybe it's time to try a modern solution. Enter the Apollo wearable.

Now we understand being a little skeptical. How can a bracelet on your wrist or ankle affect your sleep patterns? Certainly the answer to a better night's sleep can't be so simple. We considered these same things when we first heard of it. We'll dive deeper into the science behind the Apollo wearable, but suffice it to say that many people have experienced deeper, uninterrupted sleep while wearing one.
A non-conventional approach to better sleep

Read more
The 11 best Father’s Day deals that you can get for Sunday
Data from a workout showing on the screen of the Apple Watch Series 8.

Father's Day is fast approaching and there's still time to buy your beloved Dad a sweet new device to show him how much you love him. That's why we've rounded up the ten best Father's Day tech deals going on right now. There's something for most budgets here, including if you're able to spend a lot on your loved one. Read on while we take you through the highlights and remember to order fast so you don't miss out on the big day.
Samsung Galaxy Tab A8 -- $200, was $230

While it's the Plus version of the Samsung Galaxy Tab A8 that features in our look at the best tablets, the standard variety is still worth checking out. Saving your Dad the need to dig out their laptop or squint at a small phone screen, the Samsung Galaxy Tab A8 offers a large 10.5-inch LCD display and all the useful features you would expect. 128GB of storage means plenty of room for all your Dad's favorite apps as well as games too. A long-lasting battery and fast charging save him the need for a power source too often too.

Read more