Blue River Technology ,the startup that brought weed-killing lettuce robots to farms around California quietly launched a 3D crop scanning tool last month in order to be ready for this year’s farming season .
The tool called Zea has been under development for a year and a half and like the lettuce robot uses computer-based vision to scan farm fields and gather data about crops. The breeders want to measure attributes of the crops such as the size of leaves, the effect of drought on plants and how quickly crops are growing.
The Zea data scanner isn’t Blue River’s only new product coming to market. Next year Blue River hopes to deliver a prototype of a weed-killing robot that can operate in a similar way to its lettuce robot but for other crop types.
Blue River Technology is starting out by selling its 3D crop scanning tool as a service to corn plant breeders (with a fee per acre) who are keenly interested in gathering information about crops grown from various seeds in field trials. The lettuce robot which is in its fourth generation can boost the yield of farms by 10% and can reduce operation costs by replacing human labor. Manually spraying and pulling weeds on a lettuce farms is a difficult job.