Makers say machine could be part of an agricultural revolution of automation and sustainability In a sunny field in Hampshire, a killer robot is on the prowl. 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. It is part of a fourth agricultural revolution, its makers say, bringing automation and big data into farming to produce more while harming the environment less. Pressure to cut pesticide use and increasing resistance to the chemicals meant killing weeds was the top priority for the farmers advising the robot company. The killer robot, called Dick, is the world’s first to target individual weeds in arable crops and, on its first public demonstration, it is destroying broad-leaved weeds identified using pattern recognition. A scout robot, called Tom, has already scanned the field in detail and passed the data to an AI engine called Wilma to plot the targets. Dick’s onboard AI then ensures a bullseye hit. Dick demonstrates its weedkilling electrode. Photograph: Peter Flude/The Guardian Dick is powered by batteries from a Tesla […]

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