Within X Company, the Alphabet division focused on the development of some of the technologies designed to solve basic problems around the world, and now the company is developing a concept that wants to change agriculture forever.
The new project called Mineral has unveiled its first functional robots that, together with powerful software, can inspect individual plantations at the field level to help farmers improve crop yields to be more productive and efficient.
“What if every single plant could be monitored and given exactly the nutrition it needed? What if we could untangle the genetic and environmental drivers of crop yield?” — That is the challenge that Mineral has set itself to achieve in order to feed the growing population of the planet as world agriculture faces its greatest challenge — As we will need to produce more food in the next 50 years than in the previous 10,000.
The crop-inspecting robot named the “Plant Buggy” lets farmers know which part of his plantation is necessary to use pesticides or in which to reinforce the irrigation. A way of being less aggressive with the land while optimizing resources.
“By applying computing power and machine learning algorithms to the images our buggies collect and combining it all with information such as weather and soil conditions, we believe that farmers will have the information and confidence to explore new farming techniques.” — explains Elliott Grant, promoter of Mineral.
The buggy is designed to interfere with the plantation as little as possible. It is electric and is equipped with solar panels that make it autonomous. Furthermore, it is designed in a variety of ways to suit different crops.
Inside, it has a GPS that identifies the location of each plant on the ground, as well as a set of cameras that allow farmers to identify not only the features of each plant but other problems that may exist in the field.
The company explains that there is still no roadmap to commercialize this system. They still want to explore more on how to be more useful to producers and the ecosystem, as well as advance their idea of increasing the demand for plant products by the year 2050.