Dahlia Robotics develops a robot for mechanical weeding
The company stresses that there is a growing need for reductions in pesticides. The European Union has announced that it wants organic farming systems on 25% of agricultural land and a 50% reduction in chemical pesticides by 2030.
With Dahlia 3.3, farmers can avoid the use of herbicides, without having to pay for expensive and time-consuming manual labor. The precision, speed and the ability to operate on dry soils are the main advantages of its robot, explains Dahlia Robotics.
24 hours a day
The current flow of Dahlia 3.3 is 6.4 hectares for sugar beet in a single weeding season. Once the night operation is implemented next year, the robot will reach 20 ha per robot and per season. The robot will be able to operate 24 hours a day in 2022, according to the company.
The Dahlia 3.3 has a lightweight aluminum body and processes three parallel rows at a time. At the end of the rows, the robot turns automatically. It supports distances between rows of 40 to 60 centimeters. The electric drive is emission-free, with an autonomy of more than 8 hours. The robot has autonomous solar-powered navigation.
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The Dahlia 3.3 can use two weeding tools which can be easily changed. The first tool is optimized for fast weeding with two V-blades. The weeding speed with this tool is over 30 centimeters per second. The second tool has precision seed drills that can weed up to 3 millimeters from a cultivated plant.
According to Dahlia Robotics, the robot’s Power Core is the backbone of the weed control module. It supplies and controls the tools on the ground. A GPU Core provides image processing, using artificial neural networks to distinguish crops from weeds. Real-time optical weed recognition has 99% accuracy.
The robot can easily be operated using a smartphone. Images from the on-board camera are broadcast live to the operator’s phone. The lightweight robot can be loaded onto a small trailer in 2 minutes.
In spring 2022, Dahlia Robotics will test Dahlia 3.3 on several farms. The company is still looking for farmers to participate in the tests. The company plans to launch industrial-grade robots by the end of 2022.
We will probably build 5 robots next year
CEO and co-founder Torsten Steiner of Dahlia Robotics told the FIRA international agricultural robot event in Toulouse that the company is currently working to determine what demand will be for the Dahlia 3.3 in 2022. “Sounds pretty good,” did he declare. “We will probably be building 5 robots next year.”
Mr Steiner said there was some interest in using the Dahlia robot for other crops. âIf other crops are commercially viable for us, there’s nothing stopping us from deploying the robot in those crops as well. We communicate with farmers to see which crops they want to see supported. “
Detect pests and diseases
Ultimately, the robot should also detect pests and diseases, lack of nutrients, plant growth stage, damage from weather events and other information that can add value to users.