The global agriculture system is going through some pretty drastic changes in the past few years as bees colonies are dying off, nitrogen pollution is exceeding planetary limits, and the urbanization is on the rise. In order to adjust to all these new variables while preparing for increasing global food demands, farmers are trying to leverage new technologies. FarmWise, a San Francisco-based startup, is tackling this problem using artificial intelligence and robotics.
Currently, in its prototype stage, FarmWise has developed a large robot that can drive through farmlands to detect and delicately remove unwanted weeds and plants. This is made possible by the suite of sensors equipped to their prototypes and specialized learning algorithms that FarmWise uses to collect massive amounts of data about each plant. Big data like this, when analyzed on a per plant basis, could have large ramifications for both individual farms and agriculture as a whole. In the future farmers could be able to utilize this data to detect diseases in their plants or tackle infestations before too much damage can be done.
“Looking ahead, our robots will increasingly act as specialized doctors for crops, monitoring individual health and adjusting targeted interventions according to a crop’s individual needs.” Sebastien Boyer — CEO of FarmWise
And while they aren’t there just yet, the FarmWise team recently raised an additional $14.5 million to continue working on their vehicle. It’s still sure to be an uphill battle for the team, especially when it comes to selling what is in all likelihood an expensive autonomous robot to farmers. But FarmWise has come far from just being an idea to a dozen prototypes in just under three years, so I’m excited to see how they continue to drive positive agricultural change in the future.