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Weeding robot for precision farming reducing herbicide usage by 95%

Periodic Reporting for period 2 - Asterix (Weeding robot for precision farming reducing herbicide usage by 95%)

Reporting period: 2019-08-01 to 2020-06-30

During the past 60 years modern farming has, with efficient fertilizers and herbicides, quadrupled yields and fed a growing world population. However, their excessive use has dire health and environmental consequences. Residues found in crops, soil and waterways represent a serious risk for people and the environment.
Vegetable plants are especially vulnerable to herbicides, and many of the weeding agents that can be used in vegetable production are being banned due to health and environmental concerns. Consequently, vegetable farmers often must fight weeds using costly and inefficient mechanical and manual weeding methods.

In project Asterix, the objective is to provide a cost-effective autonomous weeding robot that drastically reduce herbicide usage (typically 95% reduction) by precisely aiming single droplets of herbicide directly on the weeds, without hitting the crop plants. The Asterix robot use artificial intelligence cameras to find the position of each weed and crop plant and a patented nozzle matrix that can aim herbicide droplets only at the weeds.
Because of this, the Asterix robot can use nature friendly bioherbicides (e.g. acetic or pelargonic acid) in growing fields.

The aim for project Asterix is to provide a significant contribution in reaching the objectives set out in the EC Common Agricultural Policy and Horizon 2020's Societal Challenge and provide an efficient, environmentally friendly weeding robot for vegetable farmers across the world.
To ensure that the robot is a practical tool, it has been developed & tested in close cooperation with vegetable farmers across Europe. During this process we have lifted the robot from a technology readiness level 7 to 8. It is, so far, able to recognize and work in more than 10 different vegetable crops. The practical precision in avoiding the crops, efficacy in removing weeds and the drastic herbicide savings has been tested and demonstrated in this project period.
Project Asterix will provide the most precise, cost-efficient and practical autonomous weeding robot for the important vegetable production in Europe. We aim to use naturally occurring biopesticides that degrades in the soil, leaving no residues in crop or soil. Our weeding robot radically reduces the substantial health and safety problems associated with herbicides and improves farmers earnings from vegetable production. It is a potential game changer for precision farm weeding solutions and will create a measurable positive impact for the environment