Strube’s BlueBob is a six-row, full electric and autonomously navigating field robot, for mechanical weed control in sugar beets between field emergence and canopy closure. The BlueBob weeds between the rows as well as in the rows, this leads to an almost complete elimination of the weeds.
The weeding principle is based on distinguishing between weeds and beet in real time from a very early stage. All “living” green plants are detected by multispectral cameras. With an artificial intelligence algorithm, the phenotype of each single plant is analyzed, and all plants are classified in beets or non-beets. Weed plants in the sugar beet rows can thus be removed with active in-row weeding tools, weed plants between the rows are removed with static weeding tools, the whole field is being weeded. The BlueBob can therefore be used in commercially sown sugar beets, even with varying plant spacing or gaps.
Weeding performance is expected to be between ½ and 1 ha per hour. The autonomy of the batteries is planned to allow a continuous operation in shifts of 8 hours. The field robot provides an alternative to chemical weed control through mechanical weeding. Unlike chemical weed control, the plants do not suffer from growth depression caused by repeated sprayings with products with limited selectivity on beets.
The project BlueBob started in 2019. After one year of testing with a first prototype, the project has reached in March 2021 the next milestone with a new prototype which can operate over the full width of six rows. A lot of tests are planned for 2021. Furthermore, this project is realized in collaboration with the German Fraunhofer Development Center for X-ray Technology EZRT and the French AgTech Company Naïo Technologies, specialized in the design, manufacture and marketing of farming robotic solutions.
About the company: Strube D&S GmbH is one of the leading international companies in plant breeding, with the headquarter in Söllingen. Strube, as part of the Deleplanque Group and with SUET as another partner, supplies seeds for sugar beet, wheat, sunflowers, vining peas, and sweet corn in more than 30 countries. The company's research and development departments use state-of-the-art technologies to ensure a high-performance and highly innovative product range. All the company's future-oriented, innovative, and sustainable projects, included the BlueBob, are conducted under the corporate strategy: VisionBlue.