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posted by martyb on Sunday May 02, @01:41PM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]
from the Robots-with-Lasers dept.

Carbon Robotics is developing an autonomous weeding robot, currently sold out for 2021 that eliminates the need for chemicals and/or intensive labor.

A single robot can weed up to 16 acres per day, replacing several hand-weeding crews, according to the Seattle-based startup. Each one weighs about 10,000 pounds and is the size of a medium tractor, using a hydraulic diesel system for power.

The bots are armed with eight 150-watt carbon dioxide lasers that are capable of cutting metal. They rely on computer vision tech to identify weeds and distinguish them from the valuable crops farmers are aiming to protect.

"We use a similar technology to what Facebook might use to show you that the person in your photograph is your cousin, or that self-driving cars use to locate pedestrians or lanes on the highway [and] repurposed it for weeding,"

Although it can replace quite a bit of labor -- "covering 15 to 20 acres (6 to 8 ha) of crops per day – eliminating more than 100,000 weeds per hour. In comparison, a laborer from Myers's farm can weed roughly one acre of his onions per day" -- it is also pretty pricey: "Mikesell declined to provide an exact cost of the robot, but said its price is in the hundreds of thousands of dollars".

Carbon Robotics Youtube Page with videos of it in action and a basic walkaround of the machine.


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  • (Score: 3, Informative) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday May 02, @01:45PM (5 children)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday May 02, @01:45PM (#1145375)

    .. until they decide humans are weeds.

    • (Score: 5, Funny) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday May 02, @01:48PM (2 children)

      by Anonymous Coward on Sunday May 02, @01:48PM (#1145377)

      To be fair, the article does say "it can replace quite a bit of labor". The lawyers asked then to remove "with a pile of smoldering bones".

      • (Score: 2) by FatPhil on Monday May 03, @08:37AM (1 child)

        by FatPhil (863) <{pc-soylent} {at} {asdf.fi}> on Monday May 03, @08:37AM (#1145618) Homepage
        More worrying - why was this DARPA funded?
        --
        I know I'm God, because every time I pray to him, I find I'm talking to myself.
        • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Monday May 03, @01:13PM

          by Anonymous Coward on Monday May 03, @01:13PM (#1145651)

          Same reason as the ARPAnet - nukular warfur!

          Nah, more likely that sort of automated recognition combined with laser aim and attack is something that DARPA cares about.

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday May 02, @01:50PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Sunday May 02, @01:50PM (#1145378)

      Well at least that'll spare the world a new influx of retrained laborer web designers.

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Monday May 03, @05:42PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Monday May 03, @05:42PM (#1145741)

      Why don't they just use the Jewish Space Lasers(tm)?

  • (Score: 2) by bussdriver on Sunday May 02, @02:23PM (8 children)

    by bussdriver (6876) on Sunday May 02, @02:23PM (#1145389)

    So, what does one do during dry spells? Do they sell a firetruck robot? Do only weeds burn when you cut them with a burning hot light beam?

    • (Score: 5, Informative) by Immerman on Sunday May 02, @03:23PM (3 children)

      by Immerman (3985) on Sunday May 02, @03:23PM (#1145402)

      The sort of farms that can afford many hundreds of thousands of dollars for a weeding machine don't have dry spells - dry spells kill crop yield, they have irrigation instead.

      Besides which, I imagine one of the reasons they're using such a powerful laser rather than, e.g. the few dozen watts of a wood-cutting laser, is because that heat is so high it cuts very fast, burning through even wet weeds quickly enough that it doesn't appreciably heat the material next to it. And what heat is generated is quickly dissipated by evaporation. It's really hard to get most living plant matter to burn without a major heat source.

      Plus, if the weeds are dry enough to be a fire hazard, despite irrigation, then they're likely already dead and there's no reason to remove them.

      And of course for maximum safety it's trivial to turn on the sprinklers immediately after weeding an area. The robot could even give the cut a spritz of water immediately after cutting if you wanted to be super safe.

      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday May 02, @05:28PM (1 child)

        by Anonymous Coward on Sunday May 02, @05:28PM (#1145430)
        • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Monday May 03, @08:05AM

          by Anonymous Coward on Monday May 03, @08:05AM (#1145611)

          They're nice, aren't they?

          Guess who just last week bought an example of the x300 model @auction for less than £50? (I was after some 3com PoE switches, but got distracted...maybe for the best...)

      • (Score: 1) by fustakrakich on Monday May 03, @12:05AM

        by fustakrakich (6150) on Monday May 03, @12:05AM (#1145523) Journal

        The robot could even give the cut a spritz of water

        At these prices it had better be Perrier

        --
        Ok, we paid the ransom. Do I get my dog back? REDЯUM
    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday May 02, @08:43PM (3 children)

      by Anonymous Coward on Sunday May 02, @08:43PM (#1145480)

      You don't need enough heat to vaporize the plant. Just heating the leaves enough that they can no longer retain and distribute moisture is usually good enough to kill them. The main advantage to lasers over steam or other methods is that you just need electricity and the ability to aim at the weed, you don't also need chemicals or water.

      • (Score: 2, Insightful) by Anonymous Coward on Monday May 03, @01:06AM (2 children)

        by Anonymous Coward on Monday May 03, @01:06AM (#1145535)

        > You don't need enough heat to vaporize the plant. ...

        Citation?

        If I pull the leaves off most weeds around here, the roots pop up another stem and leaves in short order. Thus weeding tools that go down for the roots, https://www.epicgardening.com/best-weeding-tool/ [epicgardening.com]

        • (Score: 2) by dry on Monday May 03, @01:55AM

          by dry (223) on Monday May 03, @01:55AM (#1145555) Journal

          It depends on the weed and the age of the weed. I'd assume they try to get the weed as young as possible and there are weeds that don't regenerate from the roots so well, lambs quarter and similar. At that the worse weeds for regenerating like dandelions are biannual or perennial and not a problem in something like a field of onions where the first step is plowing the soil.

        • (Score: 2, Informative) by hemocyanin on Monday May 03, @02:05AM

          by hemocyanin (186) Subscriber Badge on Monday May 03, @02:05AM (#1145560) Journal

          and the robot’s eight simultaneously operating 150-W carbon dioxide lasers then kill the plants off by targeting their meristems.

          " rel="url2html-26579">https://www.intelligentliving.co/autonomous-robot-lasers-kill-weeds/

          There's this, though it is pretty wide ranging and not all of it seems applicable to the use of "meristem" in the article: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Meristem [wikipedia.org]

          In the video, see upper right side pane, the center of weeds colored red: https://youtu.be/vSPhhw-2ShI?t=63 [youtu.be] It appears they aren't burning the whole plant, just aiming for the central core from which everything springs. Anyway, if the article is correct about targeting the meristem, it seems that one of the places this can be found is in the center of the plant, which is where they are aiming rather than at the whole plant and its leaves.

  • (Score: 5, Informative) by Hartree on Sunday May 02, @02:33PM (4 children)

    by Hartree (195) on Sunday May 02, @02:33PM (#1145394)

    That's quite high power for an open setting. They need to do some serious planning for unintended reflections. You'd hate to have a discarded soda can reflect it and burn out the neighbor kid's eyes.

    • (Score: 2) by Frosty Piss on Sunday May 02, @03:46PM (3 children)

      by Frosty Piss (4971) on Sunday May 02, @03:46PM (#1145407)

      Neighbor’s kid... in multi-thousand acre farm?

      • (Score: 2) by Hartree on Sunday May 02, @09:25PM (2 children)

        by Hartree (195) on Sunday May 02, @09:25PM (#1145489)

        Fields where I live (Central Illinois) are usually 100 acres or less and normally have a road running alongside them. Parts of the field are within a few feet to yards of the road and with an IR laser, auto glass won't stop it.

        Plus the topography is a problem too.

        When they named the nearby towns of Flatville, Longview, and Broadlands, they weren't just kidding.

        • (Score: 3, Funny) by fustakrakich on Monday May 03, @12:09AM (1 child)

          by fustakrakich (6150) on Monday May 03, @12:09AM (#1145524) Journal

          When they named the nearby towns of Flatville, Longview, and Broadlands, they weren't just kidding.

          Now they can add Laserburn and Oneeye and Ouch!

          --
          Ok, we paid the ransom. Do I get my dog back? REDЯUM
          • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 06, @01:08PM

            by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 06, @01:08PM (#1146758)

            Do Not Stare At Laser With Remaining Good Eye

  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday May 02, @02:57PM (1 child)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday May 02, @02:57PM (#1145399)

    >> "We use a similar technology to what Facebook might use to show you that the person in your photograph is your cousin"

    In the Southern states, that would be an algorithm that determines whether you've slept with that person. How does that help distinguish weeds from onions?

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday May 02, @05:30PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Sunday May 02, @05:30PM (#1145431)

      If you've slept with your cousin, you've had too many beers. If you've slept with an onion, lay of Uncle Nell's moonshine.

  • (Score: 2, Flamebait) by Snotnose on Sunday May 02, @03:36PM (22 children)

    by Snotnose (1623) on Sunday May 02, @03:36PM (#1145406)

    Wonder how many acres an hour an airplane with spraying equipment can weed?

    --
    Having a big nose is no reason to not wear a mask. I mean, I still wear underwear....
    • (Score: 4, Insightful) by Frosty Piss on Sunday May 02, @03:49PM (15 children)

      by Frosty Piss (4971) on Sunday May 02, @03:49PM (#1145408)

      The point is that this does not involve pesticides, which although you enjoy showering in, many people don’t. People used to say you could harmlessly drink DDT and Agent Orange, perhaps you still believe that.

      • (Score: -1, Flamebait) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday May 02, @05:00PM (14 children)

        by Anonymous Coward on Sunday May 02, @05:00PM (#1145419)

        The point is you don't know shit about farming. Feel free to offer your ignorant opinion on the subject, though.

        • (Score: 5, Insightful) by Runaway1956 on Sunday May 02, @06:13PM (10 children)

          by Runaway1956 (2926) Subscriber Badge on Sunday May 02, @06:13PM (#1145444) Homepage Journal

          I don't want to start dumping on farmers, but it seems that farmers don't know as much about farming as everyone assumes. The runoff into the oceans is heavy with fertilizer. Herbicides and pesticides are having unintended consequences, showing up in the human body, killing off bees, killing off wildlife, killing fish in the rivers and streams.

          If a farmer can do his weeding affordably without dumping life killing chemicals on the land, he should be happy for the help.

          Homicidal mad chemists may not see the advantages here.

          --
          "I didn't lose to him!" - The Donald referring to Trippin' Joe
          • (Score: 1, Insightful) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday May 02, @06:48PM (5 children)

            by Anonymous Coward on Sunday May 02, @06:48PM (#1145451)

            "If a farmer can do his weeding affordably..."

            This is the key. Is it economical?

            • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday May 02, @11:21PM (2 children)

              by Anonymous Coward on Sunday May 02, @11:21PM (#1145514)

              This is the key. Is it economical?

              That's right. Who gives a crap about human lives? The only thing that matters is MONEY!

              Oh, and by the way . . . Trump 2020! Stop the Steal!

              • (Score: 0, Touché) by Anonymous Coward on Monday May 03, @01:06AM (1 child)

                by Anonymous Coward on Monday May 03, @01:06AM (#1145534)

                Please think of the illegals pulling weed for 12 hrs/day!?!

                • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Monday May 03, @03:28AM

                  by Anonymous Coward on Monday May 03, @03:28AM (#1145576)

                  They fly those people in legally and pay them $15+ seasonally for harvesting work.

            • (Score: 1, Insightful) by Anonymous Coward on Monday May 03, @01:10AM (1 child)

              by Anonymous Coward on Monday May 03, @01:10AM (#1145537)

              > Is it economical?

              Not this V.1 which sounds to me like it's not far from prototype stage. If the company is successful, future versions might be smaller/cheaper?

              • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Monday May 03, @06:04PM

                by Anonymous Coward on Monday May 03, @06:04PM (#1145750)
                Or some company in China makes a similar thing for a lot cheaper... ;)
          • (Score: 5, Touché) by pTamok on Sunday May 02, @07:47PM

            by pTamok (3042) on Sunday May 02, @07:47PM (#1145463)

            I don't want to start dumping on farmers, but it seems that farmers don't know as much about farming as everyone assumes. The runoff into the oceans is heavy with fertilizer. Herbicides and pesticides are having unintended consequences, showing up in the human body, killing off bees, killing off wildlife, killing fish in the rivers and streams.

            Sure they do. Farmers are very good at farming - or rather, running an agrobusiness. And like any modern business, cut-throat competition means they take any possible opportunity to externalise costs. Of course they know that run-off causes problems for other people.

          • (Score: 1, Interesting) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday May 02, @08:46PM

            by Anonymous Coward on Sunday May 02, @08:46PM (#1145481)

            TBH, it's not really the farmers, it's the agrobusinesses that bought up all the farms that are mostly to blame. Most of the agricultural dollars go to a handful of extremely large, extremely large corporations that behave like corporations. If it were farmers making the decisions, you'd likely see less destruction of the environment due to run off as those chemicals need to be paid for whether they treat the crops or not.

          • (Score: 5, Interesting) by Hartree on Sunday May 02, @09:43PM (1 child)

            by Hartree (195) on Sunday May 02, @09:43PM (#1145492)

            They know a lot more than you think. Large numbers where I live have college degrees (2 or 4 year) and if they're running the farm they know a lot about business. They live where those chemicals are used and have at least some training to be certified to use them. The toothless goober with a shotgun in a tar paper shack doesn't last long in the decision making areas of modern family farms (what ones are still left).

            Often there's a lot of mistaken perceptions abut modern agribusiness among those not in it. Many times the current chemicals we use were switched to because they are far less toxic than the previous one. The neonicotinoids that are the big thrust of the bee problems you mention? I'm in ground zero for the heaviest use of them ad this area never saw much colony collapse disorder. Yes, there is an impact, but the picture is much more complicated. The labs I work with do a large amount of bee related research and it's much more of a multi-factor problem.

            The soil insecticides they replaced were radically more toxic not just to humans but to a wide array of creatures. Look up dieldran, aldrin, and Lorsban for example. We just didn't see raptors here when they were used but now see lots of hawks on the way to work and even a couple of eagles.

            It's a more nuanced picture.

            • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday May 02, @10:37PM

              by Anonymous Coward on Sunday May 02, @10:37PM (#1145503)

              The massive bee due off was due to neglience from humans, not in
              way you would think.

              - Bees are fed sugar
              - Sugar is grown on farms
              - Pesticides are used on sugar
              - Sugar kills bees

              It was solved around two years ago, I think.

              --- Just sTrolling through...

        • (Score: 1, Flamebait) by EvilSS on Sunday May 02, @07:11PM (2 children)

          by EvilSS (1456) Subscriber Badge on Sunday May 02, @07:11PM (#1145457)
          That should have been obvious when he started conflating pesticides instead of herbicides.
    • (Score: 5, Informative) by hemocyanin on Sunday May 02, @04:39PM (2 children)

      by hemocyanin (186) Subscriber Badge on Sunday May 02, @04:39PM (#1145413) Journal

      An airplane is going to cost more in chemicals. In the Seattle Times link there is an interesting comment:

      I talk a lot with a wheat farmer in eastern Washington and his herbicide spreader works on this same principle. Long boom arms with cameras for every sprayer head and it only sprays weeds. He said he can now treat as many acres with 50 gallons as he did with 5,000 gallons (might be 500 gallons now). He does it because he wants to preserve the environment and improve soil health on his acres. He did comment that saving the dollars on all that wasted herbicide before was also a huge incentive.

      The same sort of technology the laser-weeder is using, is being applied to chemical control: See & Spray - Blue River Technology's precision weed control machine [youtube.com]. The manufacturer claims a 90% reduction in chemical use.

      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday May 02, @05:37PM

        by Anonymous Coward on Sunday May 02, @05:37PM (#1145433)

        People will argue on this site about things without considering the economics at all. Thanks for the input!

      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday May 02, @08:21PM

        by Anonymous Coward on Sunday May 02, @08:21PM (#1145472)

        Why can't they put the fucking laser on the motherfucking airplane? Fuck the slow truck-based bullshit. Lasers on motherfucking drone zapping weeds 24-fucking-7.

    • (Score: 2) by Snotnose on Sunday May 02, @11:20PM (1 child)

      by Snotnose (1623) on Sunday May 02, @11:20PM (#1145513)

      And everybody missed my point. It will cost, what, $250k per robot that will work for, what, $1k/year weeding 16 acres per day. Great, lets buy some robots and sell our soybeans for $x.

      But dang, here is Farmer John who just hired an airplane with some pesticide spraying equipment for $20k a day who can now spray all our fields in 2 hours and sell his soybeans for a large value less than $x.

      --
      Having a big nose is no reason to not wear a mask. I mean, I still wear underwear....
    • (Score: 3, Informative) by dry on Monday May 03, @02:05AM

      by dry (223) on Monday May 03, @02:05AM (#1145558) Journal

      Many herbicides are broad spectrum, and the ones that aren't such as 2-4-D (useful for onions as it only kills plants that have 2 seed leaves, dicots) aren't the healthiest and other monocots may still take over. I guess you can buy glyphosate resistant seeds and spray roundup. Roundup is expensive and you're dependent on those genetically altered seeds.

  • (Score: 5, Interesting) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday May 02, @04:05PM (23 children)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday May 02, @04:05PM (#1145410)

    There's a book online, in rather poor OCR format.

    It's the memoir of an old british farmer, and full of interesting nuggets for those who care, but there's one that I'll highlight:

    Main link: http://journeytoforever.org/farm_library/lamin/laminToC.html [journeytoforever.org]

    Relevant chapter:

    http://journeytoforever.org/farm_library/lamin/lamin2.html [journeytoforever.org]

    A key quote:

    One year, when the slump came, we got a nineteen-acre field frosted. The men that we used to get before the war would not come back to pick potatoes as they could get more money on the dole without work. So we gave up growing potatoes because we could not get any pickers to pick them up

    There is other commentary elsewhere on the nature of mechanised farming, and by other writers, but this is the essence: that farm labour is poorly paid, very hard work, but it is vulnerable to automation precisely because the price of automation can go below that of what agricultural workers will take - and every time government regulations related to benefits or wage make it more expensive to hire people, the machinery sells more because even with maintenance and energy costs, it still beats a gang of labourers with hoes and shovels. And every time this happens, it biases in favour of large farms that can better take on that sort of financial commitment.

    People complain about how dangerous police work is, but they forget that agricultural work is far more dangerous - it's about on a par, in danger terms, with being a firefighter (including people like smokejumpers).

    In an environment with high costs, high risks, and so on, why wouldn't farmers turn to diesel and machinery?

    • (Score: 5, Informative) by Runaway1956 on Sunday May 02, @06:17PM (12 children)

      by Runaway1956 (2926) Subscriber Badge on Sunday May 02, @06:17PM (#1145445) Homepage Journal

      People complain about how dangerous police work is, but they forget that agricultural work is far more dangerous

      In point of fact, many jobs are more dangerous than police work. We get the constant "hero" bullshit from the police, the unions, and even politicians. It's all bullshit. Uber drivers have it tougher. Let's not even consider Uber riders here.

      --
      "I didn't lose to him!" - The Donald referring to Trippin' Joe
      • (Score: 2) by HiThere on Sunday May 02, @06:26PM

        by HiThere (866) on Sunday May 02, @06:26PM (#1145448) Journal

        I haven't seen any figures about "Uber riders", but otherwise, yeah.

        --
        Javascript is what you use to allow unknown third parties to run software you have no idea about on your computer.
      • (Score: 3, Interesting) by bzipitidoo on Sunday May 02, @07:06PM (9 children)

        by bzipitidoo (4388) on Sunday May 02, @07:06PM (#1145456) Journal

        Back in the day, farming was very dangerous. Farm folk have been killed by farm machinery, with the power takeoff and augur being especially dangerous thanks largely to the lack of cover. There's all kinds of mistakes you can make, operating heavy equipment. A classic is trying to drive along a too steep slope, and tipping over. Another classic mishap on a farm used to be falling into a well. Yet another dangerous activity is climbing up and into silos. Bulls and horses are yet another danger. Horses can spook, with deadly consequences, killing themselves and/or the farmer. Hogs too get so huge a man hasn't a chance going toe to toe with one.

        Today, it's a lot safer. Things such as power takeoffs are all enclosed, wells are covered, and not with some flimsy lid, but several feet of dirt, and bulls have been banished to facilities specially equipped to handle them, and farmers instead use artificial insemination. Farming with horses largely disappeared after WWII, in richer nations. Hogs have gotten even bigger, but that's not a problem, as hog pens are pretty good.

        I suspect that these days, farming is safer than policing.

        • (Score: 3, Informative) by Runaway1956 on Monday May 03, @12:12AM (2 children)

          by Runaway1956 (2926) Subscriber Badge on Monday May 03, @12:12AM (#1145526) Homepage Journal

          Today, it's a lot safer.

          You mentioned tractors, but didn't mention the old tricycle tractors. Two big wheels in the back, and two very small wheels side-by-side in front to steer with. They've been mostly outlawed, nobody makes them anymore, but there are still a lot of those old tractors sitting in barns. Kid brother has a 1936 C model Deere that still works just fine. (I hated that machine, never really caught on to starting it with the flywheel.)

          Anyway, I knew people who were killed when an old Deere rolled over. Roll over bars might have saved some of them, but no one ever thought of them back in the day.

          --
          "I didn't lose to him!" - The Donald referring to Trippin' Joe
          • (Score: 2) by FatPhil on Monday May 03, @09:56AM (1 child)

            by FatPhil (863) <{pc-soylent} {at} {asdf.fi}> on Monday May 03, @09:56AM (#1145623) Homepage
            Roll-over bars

            ... *and* seatbelts

            ... that they actually use.

            Fork-lift truck deaths were very fashionable many decades back, and almost every one was due to non-wearing of the seatbelt meaning that they fell out and were crushed by their own vehicle.
            --
            I know I'm God, because every time I pray to him, I find I'm talking to myself.
        • (Score: 2, Informative) by Anonymous Coward on Monday May 03, @01:17AM (2 children)

          by Anonymous Coward on Monday May 03, @01:17AM (#1145541)

          2019, according to BLS: Agricultural workers number 7 most dangerous. Police don't even make the top ten.

          2020, according to BLS: Agricultural workers number 8 most dangerous. Police don't even make the top ten.

          You can go further back, but it's a pretty stable fact.

          • (Score: 1, Funny) by Anonymous Coward on Monday May 03, @07:29AM (1 child)

            by Anonymous Coward on Monday May 03, @07:29AM (#1145607)

            They got so safe because they just murder any person that makes them feel unsafe. Better thousands of people get murdered every year than a few cops be put at risk amirite???

            • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Monday May 03, @01:19PM

              by Anonymous Coward on Monday May 03, @01:19PM (#1145653)

              When you find someone who genuinely holds that view, let us all know.

              Until then, that's a sad, pathetic straw man with mildew and torn clothing.

        • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Monday May 03, @06:44PM (2 children)

          by Anonymous Coward on Monday May 03, @06:44PM (#1145765)

          Back in the day, farming was very dangerous.

          Reminds me of this public information film: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P0PUMmVU4qQ [youtube.com]

          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Apaches_(film) [wikipedia.org]

          I still think farming is more dangerous than policing especially in the USA since US cops can get away with murdering people just because they're cowards (or wicked)- a bit like being firefighters that only spray from a distance because they're afraid to risk their lives.

          p.s. one of the most dangerous legal jobs in the world is probably President of the USA. The job-related fatality and injury rates are quite high. So go figure who goes for such jobs. ;)
          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_United_States_presidential_assassination_attempts_and_plots [wikipedia.org]

          • (Score: 2) by bzipitidoo on Wednesday May 05, @12:14PM (1 child)

            by bzipitidoo (4388) on Wednesday May 05, @12:14PM (#1146442) Journal

            Seems police work still is safer than ag. I was just guessing farming safety had improved so much it wasn't a top 10 dangerous job any more. Nope!

            As to the police murdering anyone who makes them feel unsafe, it's possible that guns are so dangerous that even with lots of training, they themselves still have lots of accidents, shooting themselves or each other by mistake, and would be safer just not carrying. Happens so often we have a term for it: friendly fire.

            • (Score: 2, Informative) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday May 05, @01:36PM

              by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday May 05, @01:36PM (#1146452)

              Police, to my recollection, managed to hit top 10 most dangerous jobs a few years ago, squeaking into tenth place after a couple of well-publicised incidents. Then they faded back out. Agriculture, on the other hand, deals with many things that are unsafe, not just machinery. Bulk material handling is not safe - not long ago a guy I knew got cracked ribs from stakced haybales falling on him. In fact there's a serious concern that agricultural injuries are undercounted because of the frequently remote nature of the work - but that's a separate question.

              Anyway, police, if they were inclined to be murderers, wouldn't need firearms, and taking figures from the USA's most notoriously shitty shitholes isn't very useful for ascribing problems to particular causes. Even Michael Moore acknowledged that the USA, once you exclude a few places such as Baltimore, Chicago and Detroit, is as safe in firearms terms as Canada. The guns aren't the problem.

      • (Score: 1) by fustakrakich on Monday May 03, @12:16AM

        by fustakrakich (6150) on Monday May 03, @12:16AM (#1145527) Journal

        I didn't know that was a thing. How many Uber riders are being killed by combines and hay balers?

        --
        Ok, we paid the ransom. Do I get my dog back? REDЯUM
    • (Score: 2, Interesting) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday May 02, @09:02PM (5 children)

      by Anonymous Coward on Sunday May 02, @09:02PM (#1145485)

      Certain jobs should be automated out of existence. The problem is that we've oriented society around the fact that most people need to work. But, the more work people do, the worse the compensation for that work is with the lazies, most useless people being billionaires. Jeff Bezos has averaged nearly $8.9 million dollars a day and nobody with two brain cells to rub together would suggest that he works roughly 73 000 times as hard as the people he's got working themselves to death in his warehouses.

      One of my current jobs should be automated out of existence as it's valuable work, but can't be done in a cost effective manner without wearing people out. For me personally, I hope that happens soon. As the pandemic ends, I'll have better options available, but I'd love to have the service, it's just that I couldn't afford to pay for it if the working conditions were reasonable.

      The real issue that doesn't get enough attention is that at some point with all the automation, there's not going to be enough jobs to go around and if we don't have a UBI or something to ensure that everybody can support themselves, it's going to get ugly. Probably the best thing to do is give people a UBI roughly equal to 1/4 of a typical job and then cut the number of hours that people work by 1/4. Just tax the money away from the ultra-wealthy leaches and give it back to the poorest and things might start to return to some semblance of normal.

      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Monday May 03, @01:22AM

        by Anonymous Coward on Monday May 03, @01:22AM (#1145545)

        > ... at some point with all the automation, there's not going to be enough jobs to go around

        Have you read Kurt Vonnegut's future history, "Player Piano"? https://libcom.org/library/player-piano-kurt-vonnegut [libcom.org] Starts out like this:

        ILIUM, New York, is divided into three parts.

        In the northwest are the managers and engineers and civil servants and a few professional people; in the northeast are the machines; and in the south, across the Iroquois River, is the area known locally as Homestead, where almost all of the people live.

        If the bridge across the Iroquois were dynamited, few daily routines would be disturbed. Not many people on either side have reasons other than curiosity for crossing.

        During the war, in hundreds of Iliums over America, managers and engineers learned to get along without their men and women, who went to fight. It was the miracle that won the war - production with almost no manpower. In the patois of the north side of the river, it was the know-how that won the war. Democracy owed its life to know-how.

      • (Score: 1, Interesting) by Anonymous Coward on Monday May 03, @01:31AM

        by Anonymous Coward on Monday May 03, @01:31AM (#1145547)

        Of course, when we start hitting our mineral power walls, many of those terrible jobs will come back because the alternatives are too expensive, especially under the constraints of agricultural work. Even if you have your huge capacity battery that magically can recharge in minutes (remember that a lot of machinery sits around most of the year, then works all day long for two weeks, so refuelling stops are a major problem) and you have acres of solar and wind and all the rest of it, the kinds of materials involved don't come cheap, compared to good ol' steel. Agricultural environments are notoriously tough on machinery, which is why most farmers are half mechanic these days, so as your maintenance and running costs climb, it might make sense to hire a gang of labourers named Miguel and Juan and Jose to do your picking for you, and let somebody else buy the magic AI picking spiders that run on hydropower and weed clippings.

        UBI is a nice transhumanist dream, but the odds look long.

      • (Score: 1) by khallow on Monday May 03, @12:07PM (2 children)

        by khallow (3766) Subscriber Badge on Monday May 03, @12:07PM (#1145636) Journal

        Certain jobs should be automated out of existence. The problem is that we've oriented society around the fact that most people need to work. But, the more work people do, the worse the compensation for that work is with the lazies, most useless people being billionaires. Jeff Bezos has averaged nearly $8.9 million dollars a day and nobody with two brain cells to rub together would suggest that he works roughly 73 000 times as hard as the people he's got working themselves to death in his warehouses.

        It's interesting how fast that narrative goes off the rails. First, we've already solved the problem of "needing to work", which really is just that people need/want stuff. Our modern economies have evolved as solutions to that problem. Tough jobs don't exist because we need people to work. They exist because we need someone to do them.

        Second, we have this cognitive dissonance between the first part and the assertion that someone's worth should be based on how hard they work (the comparison between Bezos and warehouse workers). Why should we automate jobs out of existence when that's an opportunity to work harder than Bezos for the hypothetical better pay that you imply these workers deserve?

        And third, Bezos is paid so much because a) he owns a huge chunk of capital - Amazon that has happened to increase in price, that's not income in the usual sense, and b) he's produced a lot more value than that warehouse worker, 73k times as much is appropriate IMHO.

        Finally, any job that can be readily automated likely will be automated, including these terrible jobs. Just saying the job should be automated, doesn't make it automated. There's a huge amount of work that needs to be done first before that automation can happen.

        • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 04, @12:02AM (1 child)

          by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 04, @12:02AM (#1145862)

          > .... 73k times as much is appropriate IMHO.

          Not in my book...which Bezos (or Amazon staff) had listed as "out of print" to retaliate against my publisher. After Amazon tried to force ridiculous terms down the publisher's throat.

          • (Score: 1) by khallow on Tuesday May 04, @02:47AM

            by khallow (3766) Subscriber Badge on Tuesday May 04, @02:47AM (#1145937) Journal

            Not in my book...which Bezos (or Amazon staff) had listed as "out of print" to retaliate against my publisher.

            Your publisher may have legal recourse, depending on what was done. And "your book", particularly from what you wrote above, didn't employ Bezos.

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Monday May 03, @01:20AM (3 children)

      by Anonymous Coward on Monday May 03, @01:20AM (#1145543)

      it biases in favour of large farms that can better take on that sort of financial commitment.

      What, exactly, forbids several smaller farms to pool the money, buy the machine, and share its use?

      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Monday May 03, @01:33AM

        by Anonymous Coward on Monday May 03, @01:33AM (#1145548)

        Nothing. And some in effect do by dealing with specialist contractors who do things like harvest work.

        But the economies of scale still do not favour them physically or financially.

      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Monday May 03, @03:42AM

        by Anonymous Coward on Monday May 03, @03:42AM (#1145579)

        Lack of trust and goodwill. People tend to be petty assholes, especially when it's in their self-interest not to be.

      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Monday May 03, @06:27PM

        by Anonymous Coward on Monday May 03, @06:27PM (#1145759)
        Here's how cynical me thinks it might work out in real life:

        Several farms pool together to get a loan from the bank to buy the stuff. Most farmers of smaller farms are in debt, they don't have huge piles of cash lying around.

        It works OK at first. Then one farm has $$$$ problems and can't pay their share of the loan. So the rest have to pay a higher share in order to pay the bank. This causes various pressures and stresses so more farms drop out... Eventually all drop out. Now they owe the banks even more.
  • (Score: 2, Offtopic) by noneof_theabove on Sunday May 02, @04:59PM

    by noneof_theabove (6189) on Sunday May 02, @04:59PM (#1145418)

    Wait until you get the bill for a tech to fly in across county.

    Multiple days/nights to figure it out and have FedEx next deliver parts.

    Because YOU CAN'T WORK on something you own.

  • (Score: 4, Insightful) by Runaway1956 on Sunday May 02, @06:24PM (9 children)

    by Runaway1956 (2926) Subscriber Badge on Sunday May 02, @06:24PM (#1145446) Homepage Journal

    I don't need to weed 10,000 acres. Not even 100 acres. Don't even need to do an acre per day. I want one that can patrol the perimeter of my 15 acres, and zap weeds inside that perimeter. I don't care if it takes 15 days or more to complete a circuit - just solar power that sucker, turn it on, and watch it go. If it takes 30 days for it to complete a circuit, that's fine. It takes 30 days or more for most weeds to bear seed - pretty much like crop plants. If the weed is killed before it seeds, mission accomplished!!

    --
    "I didn't lose to him!" - The Donald referring to Trippin' Joe
    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday May 02, @08:25PM (7 children)

      by Anonymous Coward on Sunday May 02, @08:25PM (#1145475)

      Are weeds even a serious problem? I thought bugs were the main one.

      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday May 02, @09:04PM (1 child)

        by Anonymous Coward on Sunday May 02, @09:04PM (#1145487)

        They can be, something like dandelions is at most a minor pest. If you make sure the soil isn't compacted and that there's adequate calcium, it's usually not much of an issue. But, there's noxious weeds that cause serious problems and are incredibly difficult to remove once they've invaded an area. They can destroy areas rather quickly. They're usually not as much of an issue on farms as farmers have an incentive to go after them hard the moment they show up, but that's not always possible in the surrounding areas.

        • (Score: 1) by BeaverCleaver on Monday May 03, @10:44PM

          by BeaverCleaver (5841) on Monday May 03, @10:44PM (#1145837)

          100% of the dandelion plant is edible for humans. Of all the "weeds" in average domestic garden (if there is such a thing as an average garden in this global audience!) dandelions would be very low on the list.

          That said, they have a very distinctive form, which would make them a good target for machine vision...

      • (Score: 2) by Runaway1956 on Sunday May 02, @11:59PM (3 children)

        by Runaway1956 (2926) Subscriber Badge on Sunday May 02, @11:59PM (#1145520) Homepage Journal

        Depends on what you're doing on your land how big a problem weeds can be. We've lost sheep and goats to weeds. Actually, many people wouldn't even consider them to be "weeds". They just don't make good pasturage for any animals, and they happen to be toxic to sheep, and sometimes to goats - they have very similar ruminant systems. Some few of those nice yummy weeds are also toxic to cattle, but cattle seem to be smarter in most cases.

        Plus - you can probably "train" your weed-bot to kill poison ivy/sumac/oak vines. That would be really nice on any camp ground!

        If a sheep herder were to program all he knows about plants into that weedbot, it would be truly awesome.

        --
        "I didn't lose to him!" - The Donald referring to Trippin' Joe
        • (Score: 3, Insightful) by dry on Monday May 03, @02:18AM (2 children)

          by dry (223) on Monday May 03, @02:18AM (#1145564) Journal

          A weed is simply a plant out of place, any plant can be a weed if it is growing in the wrong spot.

          • (Score: 1) by hemocyanin on Monday May 03, @02:35AM (1 child)

            by hemocyanin (186) Subscriber Badge on Monday May 03, @02:35AM (#1145568) Journal

            Five or six years ago I planted mustard greens in my garden. What I didn't eat I let go to seed. Big mistake. Those darn things make up the majority of my weeds now, and I don't really care to eat them.

            • (Score: 2) by dry on Monday May 03, @09:50PM

              by dry (223) on Monday May 03, @09:50PM (#1145825) Journal

              Yea, there's weeds and there's bad weeds, bad weeds include things like mustard that have a million seeds that are explosively spread.

      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Monday May 03, @03:52AM

        by Anonymous Coward on Monday May 03, @03:52AM (#1145581)

        Weeds are a symptom of problems relating to monocultures, soil, and the obsessive human drive for eradication of the enemy. Weeds are often pioneer species occupying niches left unfilled in the fragile agricultural ecosystem. They show up because they have no real competition, which is because humans removed the competition, ad nauseam.

    • (Score: -1, Flamebait) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday May 02, @09:37PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Sunday May 02, @09:37PM (#1145491)

      Don't you have any Mexicans? Try the parking lot at Home Depot.

  • (Score: 1) by thinkerA0 on Sunday May 02, @08:26PM (4 children)

    by thinkerA0 (7608) Subscriber Badge on Sunday May 02, @08:26PM (#1145477)

    The videos show it working land that looks more like a desert with some very young onions than the majority of farmland I've seen (leafy greens, brassicas, bush fruit/vegetables, grain).

    I can see it working to kill weeds in between rows for plants with a certain growth habit.

    Anything that grows under or up through a desired plant looks like it would be problematic. If the crop's leaf spread effectively hides the ground (and weed root/stem) from an overhead platform, you'd likely have to increase the distance between plants (reducing yield per acre) to be able to lase the ground near plants' bases at an angle to maintain efficacy (assuming their product is effective even in fields with younger plants that don't produce a lot of shade).

    • (Score: 2, Interesting) by hemocyanin on Sunday May 02, @10:06PM (1 child)

      by hemocyanin (186) Subscriber Badge on Sunday May 02, @10:06PM (#1145496) Journal

      The videos show it working land that looks more like a desert with some very young onions ...

      I suppose it depends on when you look at the farm. Early spring they will indeed look like a desert, especially on the West Coast east east of the Cascades and Sierras. The caricature of the west coast is of a lush, green, and densely forested land, but in the rain shadow in the eastern parts of WA, OR, and N. CA, it is steppe and hot and dry all summer -- also very sunny which when coupled with irrigation, is a tempting combination for yields.

      • (Score: 1) by thinkerA0 on Sunday May 02, @11:05PM

        by thinkerA0 (7608) Subscriber Badge on Sunday May 02, @11:05PM (#1145507)

        Good point.
        I've mostly seen fields in the midwest and south, where the soil hasn't looked like that in the video unless there was a serious water problem. Certainly not with plants that young.

    • (Score: 2) by Runaway1956 on Monday May 03, @12:04AM (1 child)

      by Runaway1956 (2926) Subscriber Badge on Monday May 03, @12:04AM (#1145521) Homepage Journal

      If the crop's leaf spread effectively hides the ground

      In most cases, when your crop has leafed and/or bushed out to cover the ground beneath it, your weed problems are mostly over. Corn, beans, tomatoes, peppers - once the ground is shaded by my "good" plants, the bad plants generally aren't coming through. There are probably some exceptions that I'm not thinking of. Garlic? And onions, I guess. Maybe carrots?

      --
      "I didn't lose to him!" - The Donald referring to Trippin' Joe
      • (Score: 3, Informative) by Reziac on Monday May 03, @03:33AM

        by Reziac (2489) on Monday May 03, @03:33AM (#1145577) Homepage

        Climbers (bindweed, cucumber vine, wild grape, etc.) and shade tolerant (leafy spurge, purple mustard, lamb's quarter, etc.) can still be a problem after the crop leafs over. Still, not as thick as they'd be unshaded.

        Purple mustard is kinda weird, tho -- in full sun it stays tiny, but in deep shade it gets huge.

  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 04, @10:34AM

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 04, @10:34AM (#1146072)

    what could possibly go wrong?

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