AI Technology Fights Farm Weeds

October 20, 2020

One of our earlier investment, ASX-listed Strategic Elements’ robotics and artificial intelligence technology subsidiary, Stealth Technologies, has set up another potentially lucrative collaboration on the back of its autonomous vehicle technologies. The new opportunity is in the agricultural space where the company is looking to develop a 3D mapping device for the farming sector aimed at automating the process of detecting and managing weeds.

Stealth Technologies Fight Against Farm Weeds

Following a recently extended agreement with US-based giant Honeywell to develop an Autonomous Security Vehicle for the Eastern Goldfields Regional Prison, Stealth has now partnered up with the University of Western Australia (UWA) based Australian Herbicide Resistance Initiative, and the UWA School of Agriculture and Environment to progress the initiative.

Under these collaborations, Stealth’s sophisticated 3D mapping and localization software that is already built into its existing AxV automation and robotics platform will be used to build the device for the automation of weed mapping.

AxV is the same underlying technology that underpins the development of the Autonomous Security Vehicle with Honeywell.

The planned 3D mapping device will be designed to capture and integrate multiple forms of data to produce 3D location maps of agricultural weeds and enable farmers to target and manage them more cost-effectively.

Data expected to be mined by the device is intended to come from sources such as light detection remote sensors, GPS and high-definition cameras.

Stealth says its initial strategy is to avoid the introduction of new machinery or farm practices, in order to make the ultimate 3D mapping device more accessible to a larger market segment.

The company envisages the device being fitted to a standard combine harvester and automatically capturing and integrating data while a farmer undertakes crop harvesting, with the 3D maps easily imported into existing GPS devices or agriculture management software.

Farmers can then follow up by applying existing and or modern agronomic methods of treating weeds.

According to Stealth, AHRI and USAE have strong relationships with potential end users, who will assist them in their data gathering and provide field insights towards the development of a potential commercial solution. Initial field test work has already kicked off at a farm in the Wheatbelt town of Cunderdin.

Both USAE and AHRI bring technical and agronomic expertise associated with weed management to the table and will perform the biological component of the joint project. AHRI specializes in crop and weed science and herbicide resistance in the Australian grains industry

The parties hope to collect field data from farms in the December quarter and then analyze that data to polish up the weed detection and identification technology, develop a Stealth 3D mapping prototype and validate the technology by deploying the mapping device onto a combine harvester during cropping.

According to the MD of Strategic Elements. Charles Murphy;
Our strategy from the start was to build a platform that has applications across multiple industry sectors. Security is a huge, global multibillion-dollar market and we are successfully entering that with Honeywell.
However, from an Australian domestic market context, other sectors like agriculture, logistics and mining also have immediate opportunities. We are following the same strategy of collaborating closely with end users to develop a solution, which directly solves an existing problem, with automation.

According to Strategic Elements, Stealth’s AxV integrated hardware and software platform – that combines the capabilities of autonomous driving, computer vision, purpose-built robotics and AI – can be scaled to a range of vehicle shapes and sizes and that custom robotics are adaptable to perform a variety of physical actions and tasks. Should its results prove fruitful, Stealth Technologies could see the AxV platform being test in other industries (i.e. transport, logistics, energy, defense, resources, communications, government and utilities).

The article was repurposed from The West Australian.

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