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Dave
10-12-2006, 11:43 AM
Overuse of chemicals is one of the biggest problems facing agriculture today. Crops are blanketed with thousands of gallons of pesticides, herbicides, and fertilizers; only a small fraction of which stays where it belongs and plays a beneficial role. The rest just runs off into the ground, poisoning our water supply. More precise application of these chemicals would be a big step toward reducing the amount of agricultural toxins purposely dumped into the environment.

Bob, from Robot Gossip, recently blogged an interesting story about a robot developed at U of I that's designed to cruise around a farm field applying herbicide directly to individual weed plants. It has stereo vision, and can distinguish weeds from crop plants.

http://robotgossip.blogspot.com/2006/10/search-and-destroy-weedkiller-robot.html

Cool, huh? I see a minor problem, though. The robot is too freaking BIG. Swarms of small bots that could crawl between rows of plants would get the job done, but this behemoth couldn't get anywhere near the weeds it needs to kill. But hey, they did a lot of hard work, they mean well, and they're headed in the right direction; so U of I gets a Special Olimpics gold metal for this one.