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Alphabet's Mineral moonshot to help farmers with robotic plant bugs

Alphabet's Mineral moonshot to help farmers with robotic plant bugs
The Siliconreview
13 October, 2020

Alphabet's X lab has announced that it will introduce a "computational agriculture" project called Mineral. This project mainly aims at fortifying the unwanted weeds in the agricultural field using machine learning and artificial intelligence. The Mineral team has spent the last several years developing and testing a range of software and hardware prototypes based on breakthroughs in artificial intelligence, simulation, sensors, robotics and more.

One of the tools that have come out of the project is a robotic plant buggy. It is powered by solar panels; the machine makes its way across a farmer's field, examining every plant it passes along the way with an array of cameras and sensors. In conjunction with satellite, weather and soil data, plant buggy and its AI software can identify patterns and give farmers insights into their crops. One of the central promises of the technology is that it can help farmers troubleshoot individual plants.

In that way, if only a handful need a pesticide or some other form of care, growers can save money and lessen their impact on the environment. In the meantime, the team says it's working with innovative plant growers in the US, Canada, Argentina, and South Africa. It's also in the process of finding more companies, organizations, and governments to work with on its mission. This will benefit farmers to maintain the soil quality and reduces the use of pesticides.