Collect data to analyze and sell it. Google has found a new way to apply its mantra, this time outside the virtual world. The American company, through its holding Alphabet, has just presented its Mineral project, an autonomous machine capable of predicting farm yields through individual plant analysis and disease detection, reports Le Time.
Targeted treatments thanks to artificial intelligence
The robot created by Google takes the form of a gantry equipped with a multitude of sensors and cameras circulating on the paths. Project Mineral officials announced that their machine had already been tested in California and Illinois, "collecting high-quality images of every plant, counting and ranking every berry and bean."
Alphabet's objective is to combine these analyzes collected by the robot with satellite images and meteorological data. Engineers thus intend to maximize the productivity of agricultural areas and prescribe targeted treatments to plants.
In their report, cited by the Lausanne newspaper, they justify their research as follows:
"To feed the world's growing population, global agriculture will need to produce more food in the next fifty years than in the previous ten thousand years - at a time when climate change is making our crops less productive. . ”
Reduce costs and ecological impact
In recent years, the tension between climate change and the increase in the population (9.7 billion human beings in 2050, according to United Nations forecasts) is worrying. Many companies are therefore seeking to optimize farms through technological innovation, while reducing the costs and ecological impact of crops.
Next spring, the Swiss company Ecorobotix is expected to launch a brand new robot weeder. Powered by solar energy, the prototype will be able to detect weeds ["weeds"] within crops to spray them individually. "Our solution uses 95% less chemistry than current techniques and offers farmers a massive cost reduction of around 50%," says Aurélien Demaurex, director of Ecorobotix.
In view of the progress made in agriculture, technologies are called upon to support the global transition to sustainable development, by optimizing production models. But artificial intelligence alone will not ensure food security for years to come. Because rational consumption and the reduction of waste also depend on political decisions. In this effort, “human intelligence” will have its part to play.