BoniRob – your farm assistant

Germany’s start-up company Deepfield Robotics, owned by Bosch, have come up with a new robot which can eliminate weeds automatically without using any form of chemicals. Called The BoniRob, it destroys weeds by shoving them deep into the ground with 80% accuracy. This advancement can play a very important role in addressing the ever-increasing population growth driven food requirement. Studies have shown that agricultural yield have to increase by 3% every year to meet demand.

The BoniRob is about the size of a compact car uses GPS and LIDAR measurement to know its location. Using on-board cameras and advanced computer-based image analysis, it can detect thousands of plant size, colours, fruits size and insect damage. The robot is design to be highly manoeuvrable, the four independent wheels can adjust the track width. It can run on battery or a generator to extend its range, and can be retrofitted and upgraded with exchangeable tools. It has the ability to operate automatically or manually.

The on-board cameras and sensors scan the ground looking for weeds and using probes it pokes them back deep into the ground. The team considered removing them but it would take a lot of time, up to one second per weed. To help BoniRob to separate the weed from the crop, Deepfield has taken thousands of images of fields and then annotated each image’s characteristics. The on-board computer uses this data to analyze up to 1000 crop properties, including shape and light reflectance in real time.

The applications of BoniRob extend far from just controlling weed; it can also be used for plant researches. The robot can help plant scientist in tracking new genetically modified plants in their growth. It can also check for signs of infections, and leaves and fruits conditions.

Innovations like this can help farmers avoid the use of chemicals and herbicides. Given the scale of farming nowadays, chemicals were the only possible way to control the weed until now, as those can be sprayed using tractors or by an airplane in a short amount of time. Although these chemicals kill the weed, they can also contaminate the plants and the food that is consumed.

Country of Origin: Germany

Year: 2015


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