Business of Design

This weed-killing AI robot can tell crops apart

Smart weed-killing robots are here to disrupt the pesticide industry

A slew of AI weed killers are on the horizon and have the potential to disrupt the multibillion dollar pesticides business. Among them is Swiss-company ecoRobotix and its weed-killing robot.

It's solar-powered and can kill weeds for 12 hours straight without an operator at the helm. Through artificial intelligence, cameras and two robotic arms, the table-looking robot sprays a dose of herbicide on weeds but not the crops. EcoRobotix uses 20 times less herbicide than traditional methods that spray entire fields.

Founded in 2011, ecoRobotix develops autonomous weeding robots, which help farmers to produce healthier food with a more efficient and sustainable use of herbicides. The company carried out pilot projects in Europe and closed a $10.7 million Series B financing round in May.

This latest investment will allow ecoRobotix to reach key European countries, the next step toward the world's multibillion-dollar weeding market.

In 2017, John Deere made a push into robotic farming solutions by acquiring California-based agriculture tech firm Blue River Technology for $305 million.