It's part of a fourth agricultural revolution, its makers say, bringing automation and big data into farming to produce more while harming the environment less.
Farmers are under pressure to cut pesticide use, but they still need to kill weeds in order to keep yields up. The good news is that an innovative, automated solution may be just a few months away, as a killer robot is now on the prowl in southern England hunting down weeds. Once its artificial intelligence engine has locked on to its target, a black electrode descends and delivers an 8,000-volt blast. A crackle, a puff of smoke, and the target is dead - a weed, boiled alive from the inside.
The killer robot is the world’s first to target individual weeds in arable crops and destroys broad-leaved weeds identified using pattern recognition. A scout robot has already scanned the field in detail and passed the data to an AI engine to plot the targets, ensuring that the killer robot - which is powered by batteries from a Tesla - always scores a bullseye. LED lights mean the robots can work at night too.
The robot does not need to kill every weed, as some have benefits. Speedwell is enjoyed by bees and clover fixes nitrogen in the soil, for example. As neither is a threat to crop growth, the robots leave them alone.
Trials continue and the makers believe that their machine could be part of an agricultural revolution of automation and sustainability.