Home Inspirational Constructed by College students, AI-Powered Robotic Helps Farmers Reduce Prices, Chemical Use

Constructed by College students, AI-Powered Robotic Helps Farmers Reduce Prices, Chemical Use

Constructed by College students, AI-Powered Robotic Helps Farmers Reduce Prices, Chemical Use


Founding father of Harvested Robotics, Rahul Arepaka (22) constructed Rakshak, an AI-powered laser-weeding robotic that combats weeds with out harming the crops. He’s now utilizing it to assist farmers earn extra.

Weeds pose a major downside for farmers, considerably decreasing harvest yields if not addressed on time. The ICAR-Directorate of Weed Analysis (ICAR-DWR), Jabalpur, estimated that the whole losses attributable to weeds quantity to nearly $11 billion per 12 months throughout 10 main crops in India.

Efficient weed administration is due to this fact of prime significance, each by way of productiveness in addition to for farmers’ incomes. Nevertheless, the predominant methodology of handbook weed elimination is time-consuming, labour-intensive, and costly. In keeping with an ICAR-DWR report, weed administration accounts for 20 to 25 % of the whole cultivation prices.

“I develop 20 varieties of greens on my farm and must take away weeds each two weeks. Doing this by hand is dear and arduous work, particularly with so many various greens, which ends up in plenty of weeds,” says Prashant T R, a farmer from Madurai.

Rahul Arepaka, Founder, Harvested Robotics
Rahul Arepaka, Founder, Harvested Robotics

The opposite strategies of weed elimination contain using weedicides or herbicides, that are chemical compounds sprayed on the sector to eradicate weeds. Although that is efficient, it has a long-term adverse affect on the atmosphere and the well being of farmers.

Studying about this downside prompted Rahul Arepaka, an engineering pupil at Mahindra College in Hyderabad, to develop an answer. He constructed an AI-powered laser-weeding implement known as ‘Rakshak’ via his firm, Harvested Robotics.

“A farmer spends nearly Rs 15,000 for weeding, which needs to be completed at the very least three to 4 instances throughout a whole season. So the whole price sums as much as nearly Rs 60,000. The opposite possibility is utilizing chemical compounds, however I needed to construct an answer that’s good for the farmer in addition to the planet,” Rahul tells The Higher India.

Precision laser expertise to kill weeds

Rakshak is an AI-powered laser-weeding implement
Rakshak is an AI-powered laser-weeding implement

Rahul — who’s now within the closing 12 months of laptop science engineering — participated in lots of robotics competitions alongside along with his buddies, together with the World Robotics Olympiad. “We have been constructing farming robots and realised that weeds are an enormous downside. Throughout internships at firms like FarmBot, we developed laser-based weed elimination options as proof of idea. By means of this expertise, I recognized a niche within the Indian marketplace for a laser weeder,” says Rahul.

As an alternative of utilizing chemical compounds or hiring handbook labour, Rahul determined to construct laser expertise for weed administration. What began as a brainstorming session in December 2022 advanced right into a concrete imaginative and prescient inside a couple of months. By means of his college’s incubation programme, he obtained an preliminary funding of Rs 5 lakh.

Teaming up with three buddies, additionally final-year engineering college students from completely different disciplines like mechanical and electronics, they launched into growing a laser expertise to fight weeds in June 2023. Over the previous 8 months, they’ve obtained a complete funding of Rs 18 lakh from the college’s incubation centre to additional develop this platform.

Rakshak is a tractor-mounted laser weeder constructed utilizing robotic platforms that utilise precision laser expertise for weed eradication, which is paired with particular person weed recognition via deep studying algorithms.

Whereas there are some gamers globally who’ve constructed related options, what differentiates Harvested Robotics is the ability supply of the laser, explains Rahul. “To burn weeds in India, you need to use at the very least 200 watts of laser supply to burn it shortly. The worldwide gamers use a 1,200-watt laser, which prices them $40,000 only for the laser — a restrictive price. These lasers even have a really excessive upkeep price,” provides the 22-year-old.

To resolve this downside, as an alternative of counting on one massive energy supply, Rahul and the staff used a bunch of smaller laser sources, which they mixed to get the identical end result. “We’ve used 5 completely different laser sources to get 200 watts on the bottom. This fashion, we have been in a position to considerably cut back the price, whereas guaranteeing even energy distribution,” he explains.

The way it works

Rakshak eliminates weeds all the way down to their roots. It autonomously identifies weeds utilizing cameras and synthetic intelligence, utilising blue laser expertise for detection.

“As you drive the tractor, the machine makes use of laptop imaginative and prescient and AI to detect what’s a weed and what’s not. Utilizing precision expertise and accuracy, the lasers burn them down. This additionally reduces the probabilities of regrowth of weeds,” he provides.

All the system is powered by the tractor battery itself and doesn’t want any exterior supply for charging. “It doesn’t rely on the horsepower of the tractor. All tractors have a three-point linkage the place our implement will get connected. It’s powered via the PTO (energy take-off) or trolley trailer socket,” he explains, including that this robotic implement works on nearly any tractor, throughout sizes.

He provides that this methodology can also be a zero-chemical resolution.

The device can be easily attached to any tractor
The gadget may be simply connected to any tractor

“We’re not utilizing chemical compounds and never disturbing the soil. It preserves the soil and maintains the crop’s integrity as tilling strategies are usually not used. We focus the laser on the stem level of the weed, with a concentrate on destroying the water cells contained in the plant, in order that the water-absorbing capability is misplaced and the plant dies. The leaves finally fall out and can change into manure for different crops,” provides Rahul.

Whereas weeds are inclined to develop once more in different strategies of weed administration, that is extra sustainable, he claims.

“Laser weeder machines within the US price 1,000,000 {dollars}. Our resolution is essentially the most reasonably priced on the planet. It’ll additionally cut back the variety of weeding cycles and time. Such expertise is just not accessible in India and now we have additionally utilized for a patent,” he says, including that the opposite accessible machines use carbon dioxide-based expertise, are enormous, and have a excessive upkeep price.

“Different options use invisible laser expertise whereas we use blue laser mild which penetrates quicker via chlorophyll,” he provides.

Rahul and his staff constructed the implement over eight months and have carried out trials in farms throughout India. Harvested Robotics is a part of the Microsoft for Startups Founders Hub, and they’re additionally working with Mahindra & Mahindra to check their product. They’re gearing as much as launch their product out there within the subsequent few months, and it’s anticipated to be priced at Rs 10 lakh.

For extra info, you’ll be able to contact Rahul at rahul.arepaka@gmail.com.

Edited by Pranita Bhat



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