A French team uses laser beams and AI to replace pesticides

A team of researchers in Lyon, France, leveraged their knowledge in artificial intelligence to develop a technology that identifies and removes pests from plants. For their proof of concept, they chose a particularly tough opponent.

The pea aphid is a sap-sucking insect that feeds on legumes such as pea, clover, alfalfa, and broad bean. This pest is extremely hard to find since it’s only a few millimetres long, enjoys hiding below the leaves and is green!

Greenshield Technology’s robot can drive through the plants without crushing them and take pictures with its embedded camera. It then uses an innovative algorithm to identify pea aphids in the pictures. Once found, it eliminates them with a patented robotized laser beam.

The team managed to calibrate the laser beam to remove the insect without damaging the plant or affect the overall biodiversity in any way.

Why does it matter? Usually, farmers get rid of pests such as pea aphids with pesticides. However, only 0.3% of sprayed pesticides come in contact with the target pest. Moreover, they also affect pollinating insects and humans.

The Greenshield project could be a major breakthrough for sustainable agriculture and biodiversity protection 🐝

(source: insa-lyon.fr)