Constructed by College students, AI-Powered Robotic Helps Farmers Lower 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 lowering harvest yields if not addressed on time. The ICAR-Directorate of Weed Analysis (ICAR-DWR), Jabalpur, estimated that the full losses attributable to weeds quantity to virtually $11 billion per yr throughout 10 main crops in India.

Efficient weed administration is subsequently of prime significance, each by way of productiveness in addition to for farmers’ incomes. Nevertheless, the predominant technique of guide weed removing is time-consuming, labour-intensive, and costly. In response to an ICAR-DWR report, weed administration accounts for 20 to 25 % of the full cultivation prices.

“I develop 20 varieties of greens on my farm and must take away weeds each two weeks. Doing this by hand is pricey and onerous work, particularly with so many various greens, which results 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 removing contain using weedicides or herbicides, that are chemical substances sprayed on the sphere to eradicate weeds. Although that is efficient, it has a long-term damaging influence on the surroundings and the well being of farmers.

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

“A farmer spends virtually Rs 15,000 for weeding, which must be executed a minimum of three to 4 occasions throughout a whole season. So the full value sums as much as virtually Rs 60,000. The opposite possibility is utilizing chemical substances, however I wished to construct an answer that’s good for the farmer in addition to the planet,” Rahul tells The Higher India.

Precision laser know-how 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 ultimate yr of pc science engineering — participated in lots of robotics competitions alongside together with his mates, together with the World Robotics Olympiad. “We have been constructing farming robots and realised that weeds are an enormous downside. Throughout internships at corporations like FarmBot, we developed laser-based weed elimination options as proof of idea. Via this expertise, I recognized a niche within the Indian marketplace for a laser weeder,” says Rahul.

As a substitute of utilizing chemical substances or hiring guide labour, Rahul determined to construct laser know-how for weed administration. What began as a brainstorming session in December 2022 developed right into a concrete imaginative and prescient inside a number of months. Via his college’s incubation programme, he acquired an preliminary funding of Rs 5 lakh.

Teaming up with three mates, additionally final-year engineering college students from completely different disciplines like mechanical and electronics, they launched into creating a laser know-how to fight weeds in June 2023. Over the previous 8 months, they’ve acquired 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 know-how for weed eradication, which is paired with particular person weed recognition by means of deep studying algorithms.

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

To unravel this downside, as a substitute of counting on one huge energy supply, Rahul and the crew used a bunch of smaller laser sources, which they mixed to get the identical consequence. “Now we have used 5 completely different laser sources to get 200 watts on the bottom. This manner, we have been in a position to considerably cut back the price, whereas making certain even energy distribution,” he explains.

The way it works

Rakshak eliminates weeds right down to their roots. It autonomously identifies weeds utilizing cameras and synthetic intelligence, utilising blue laser know-how for detection.

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

The whole 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 hooked up. It’s powered by means of the PTO (energy take-off) or trolley trailer socket,” he explains, including that this robotic implement works on virtually any tractor, throughout sizes.

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

The device can be easily attached to any tractor
The system might be simply hooked up to any tractor

“We’re not utilizing chemical substances 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 ultimately fall out and can grow to be manure for different crops,” provides Rahul.

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

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

“Different options use invisible laser know-how whereas we use blue laser gentle which penetrates quicker by means of chlorophyll,” he provides.

Rahul and his crew constructed the implement over eight months and have performed 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 available in the market 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

Edited by Pranita Bhat

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