Weed-killing lasers!

By | May 20, 2012
Darth Vader, where are you? Your excuse to build the Death Star has come!

It's a pity that this result comes only after GMOs have engineered insecticides (and quite possibly herbicides) into plant genomes. Blasting pests with a laser is less harmful to human consumption than eating toxins – and gives organic farmers (or at least, organic farmers who are in it for the money) a new toy to play with to improve productivity.

I'm not sure what the final operating cost of a commercial version of these lasers will end up being – after all, you need energy to position and fire death lasers, and energy grids are already too heavily used by other industries. But we'll need a new label for consumers who don't want death lasers pointed around their food, and we'll need ways to protect insects and other friendly beasties who may get caught in the crossfire.

/via +Winchell Chung 

Star Wars on Weeds: Could Lasers Replace Herbicides?
Toxic chemicals kill unwanted weeds, but at a cost. Labor intensive organic methods won’t be adopted by industrial farms. Could lasers be the answer?

3 thoughts on “Weed-killing lasers!

  1. John Bump

    The problem is telling what is and isn't grass, basically. It's hard to get a computer to do that. Computer vision is really challenging.

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  2. John Bump

    I've drawn up some plans for a DIY version of this: essentially an iRobot Roomba built up for outdoor travel, with a 200mW laser on it. It'd cruise around the grass looking for broad leaves, and burn them. The problem is, well, recognizing broad leaves…so as soon as I develop artificial intelligence and a good vision system the rest will be easy.
    (But you could say that about every task in the world, I suspect.)

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