About robots, robot development
and those who make it happen


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  • Broadleaf Dock (Rumex obtusifolius), a kind of weed that is very common in grassland, is a farmer’s worst nightmare. The plant grows extremely fast and devalues the land, because on the place where the weed grows, there is no space for grass. Getting rid of the weed manually is a hard task to accomplish, since it spreads quickly, and the work is physically tough, since the roots grow deep.

    While pesticides can be the answer in some cases, this is not a solution for organic farmers. Robot Ruud is a mechanical weed tracer that can find and get rid of the weed, root and all. Ruud works fully autonomously at a speed of 2 kilometers per hour. The camera on Ruud works at two frames per second, which means that every 25 centimeters of movement the robot will receive new information.

    While the grass and the weed are both a similar color of green, Ruud can define the differences between the two and track down the Broadleaf Dock. Once found, it will take Ruud around 10 seconds to destroy the plant and dig to 15 centimeters deep, to completely get rid of the root and make sure it does not regrow.

    At the moment, the development the cutterhead is using a lot of energy, but there are ideas to improve the prototype. While Ruud should be able to work without human control (it has a very accurate GPS system), it might prove troublesome when dealing with unknown variables such as cows on the grassland. The robot also comes with a price tag that might be steep for most farmers, since they will only use the robot a couple of times per year.

    Early experiments have shown that Ruud can find and get rid of 90% of the weeds under good conditions. It will take Ruud around 8 hours to finish a one hectare piece of grassland.

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