Arrath 44 days ago
I would see the drones being used to help map weed concentration and optimize the route/efficiency of the weed killing robot, not using drones to kill the weeds.
There are already solutions that use drone photogrammetry to map crop health, ground coverage and so on. It feels like a logical next step to use a drone to assist mapping the best route/find problem areas to target for the weed-roomba.
delfinom 44 days ago
>I would see the drones being used to help map weed concentration and optimize the route/efficiency of the weed killing robot, not using drones to kill the weeds.
That’s a ridiculous solution to a non-existent problem. The robot literally has no rush to go to the weeds. It can crawl along the field by itself 24/7. Throw in a solar panel charging station and you literally have free energy for it to piss away.
Instead you want to add complexity to the setup, increase maintenance costs and potentially shorten the lifespan of the system.
jcims 43 days ago
It’s not ridiculous at all, hours count. I haven’t looked at the article, but I’m assuming it’s the same machine, it’s a 10,000 pound unit with tiny little tires and a 75 hp diesel engine. It’s going to compact the soil, get stuck, and waste fuel driving around looking for weeds.
If sending a 20 pound gas drone with a 2 TB solid-state drive and 60 FPS 4K camera on it up and down the field for one 100th of the fuel consumption once a week saves 500 hours a year off that beast, it’d probably be worth it.
Melting_Harps 43 days ago
> It’s going to compact the soil, get stuck, and waste fuel driving around looking for weeds.
This true of any modern farming equipment, which is why planting strategy is so critical–I kept messing up in my first year as I was going way too fast instead of taking my time and my planted rows were never straight, it was in a green house and we had an old diesel tractor so my lungs were hurting after the first hour and I just compromised on that aspect.
But then when I had to go back and weed, maintain and eventually harvest the oddly planted fields of salads and potatoes I made sure to follow the natural ebb and flow of the soil compaction, which was there even after it was tilled.
What I’m saying is that the compacted soil can help you in later seasons to maintain the direction of growth so it’s not entirely a bad thing to have. And unless you farmed the same fields for several seasons/years you would overlook this as a net benefit. Eventually seasoned farm hands can do it while drinking and smoking and just listening to how the engine is struggling without even touching the steering wheel, they can even get out of the tractor and walk ahead of it as it’s crawling forward to check if everything is fine. Where as for apprentices like myself who had no real experience in Ag it was a remarkable discovery that one shouldn’t overlook.
Also, drones are already widely in use; they monitor temperature and moisture in real time and a offer other services right now . Their is a company that I found that posted here on YC a few years ago that offers this as a service .
I was actually going to get my commercial drone’s license a couple month’s before I retired as a farm manager in Hawaii due to extensive injuries, but my fintech startup required saving and scraping all my pennies to afford getting it off the ground. I might consider getting it again as things start to be more widely deployed and the costs keep coming down and I still would like to be involved in some capacity in Ag.
IanCal 43 days ago
That does depend on how much area it can cover per day.
If it covers all your land in under a day, sure. If not, then route planning may mean you can have one rather than two or more of these very expensive machines.
It’s not a drasticly complex addition, and mapping weeds with drones appears to be a use of them already.
flukus 43 days ago
> That does depend on how much area it can cover per day.
This assumes weeding is a time sensitive task, which I find very doubtful. Realistically covering your land area in a week is probably enough, but maybe that’s much higher.
kickout 43 days ago
Ok thank you. Common sense on non-programming topics on HN is more rare than I would like. You clearly understand the problem better than most
silasb 43 days ago
Tethered drones might work.