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Friday, May 18, 2018

The Intelligent Dodder Weeder

I've been really busy lately at work building BIG machines. My latest creation is the Intelligent Dodder Weeder shown here ambling down the road between fields:

It's 40 feet wide when the wings are down, weighs about 20,000 pounds including the tractor, finds and kills dodder weed in fields of safflower at the rate of about 20 acres an hour, which replaces a crew of roughly 100 people.

With a network of 54 computers with total computational power of 75,000,000,000,000 operations per second (75 teraflops), it processes 720 images per second coming from 36 cameras and identifies the dodder weed using a traditional machine vision algorithm approach coupled with a deep convolutional neural net recognition system. Wherever the weed is found, it's sprayed with an herbicide to kill it.

At this moment in time, it may well be the most advanced mobile agricultural machine in the world in commercial operation. There are probably experimental machines that are at least as advanced, but our Weeder is operating 12 hours per day, 6 days per week in actual working conditions.

It was fun to design and develop this latest machine, but it was a huge amount of work to get it up and running.