Agriculture startup Blue River Technology has successfully built an autonomous weeding tractor that is fully operational and ready for production.
Blue River works to build machines that make farming more efficient and more eco-friendly. As opposed to covering a field with pesticides (which in the long-run makes for pesticide resistant weeds), Blue River's 'LettuceBot' will scan the ground to identify appropriate targets and only apply pesticides to those targets. This pesticide autonomous weeding tractor uses the same technology as an autonomous car or bus (scans its surroundings) to move about a designated area.The LettuceBot can reduce the amount of pesticides used by a factor of ten.
The major obstacle in the way of implementing this technology is the regulatory standards placed on pesticides. Pesticide bottles must have detailed operating instructions written on them developed by the manufacturers and regulators. These labels do not account for cutting-edge farming technologies like the LettuceBot. Unfortunately, pesticide manufacturers aren't incentivized to get technology like LettuceBot into the market place.