Lasers May Be the Future of Weed Control

Dan Carbon Robotics, Technology

Carbon Robotics
Courtesy Carbon Robotics
Carbon Robotics is pioneering the next revolution in agriculture with its Autonomous Weeder, a self-driving, tractor-sized robot that uses cameras, computers, and lasers to identify, target and eliminate weeds without damaging crops or disrupting the soil biome. Through this transformative weed control solution, Carbon Robotics helps farmers deliver healthier, denser crops using fewer herbicides. The end result is better for the environment, for consumers, and for farmers. The Autonomous Weeder is a modern tool for sustainable agriculture, and it helps farmers find a realistic path toward organic farming.

Carbon Robotics is working on what may be the future of weed control in agriculture. They’re building a rectangular vehicle a little smaller than a compact sedan, which rolls across farmland.

While it’s moving, the vehicle shoots concentrated bursts of infrared light into the rows. Observers hear audible crackles and get the distinct smell of burning vegetation as weeds smolder next to unscathed crops.

The Autonomous Weeder can kill over 100,000 weeds/hour using eight simultaneously operating laser modules that deliver quick zaps on emerging weeds. Weeders are now running in the fields of lettuce, onion, carrot, baby spinach and more……
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Paul Mikesell, the founder of Carbon Robotics, says the unmanned Autonomous Laser Weeder covers 15-20 acres per day and kills up to 100,000 weeds an hour. The infrared lasers shoot from beneath the vehicle’s undercarriage. There’s no manual chopping crew, no soil disturbance beyond the wheel traction, and no herbicide use, an important fact given agriculture’s push toward sustainability.


“We spent almost three years designing a system that targets weeds on its own while rolling through a field,” Mikesell says. “It operated entirely on its own and separate from any human action.”

(From the National Association of Farm Broadcasters)