Down on the farm, Lettuce Bot is quietly slaying weeds

From field to table: Blue River sees robots like these concepts helping organic farmers.

(Credit:
Blue River Technology)

Robot chefs can prepare everything from pancakes to sushi, and now a California startup is trying to put droids to work on farm produce as well.

Blue River Technology this week announced $3.1 million in funding for its plans to develop robots that can automatically kill weeds and thin out plants like lettuce that need adequate room to grow.

Both tasks can require large human work crews, driving up the cost of the produce.

The startup’s prototype Lettuce Bot uses a camera to image the plants beneath it. Machine learning algorithms then identify which ones are desirable and which are weeds. It can work with iceberg and romaine lettuces.

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