Autonomous robots help farmers prepare for world’s largest tulip bloom

Starting in early March, dozens of large, futuristic-looking white machines started slowly trolling through farmland in The Netherlands. At first glance, the machines look like a cross between a tractor and World War I-era track-based tank, albeit with a distinctly shiny sci-fi shimmer. The machines are actually fully autonomous, AI enabled agriculture robots tasked with spotting and eliminating diseased tulip bulbs ahead of the country’s iconic and financially significant Spring tulip bloom. The Dutch-made robot is just one of many new autonomous tools quickly making their way onto farms and ranches around the world. 

How does the robot spot infected tulips?

The tulip-spotting robot, designed by the Netherlands based company H2L Robotics, is officially called “Selector180.” Weighing in at roughly 2,600 pounds, the Selector uses GPS coordinates to autonomously drive through tulip fields and onboard cameras to take thousands of photos. An AI model then combs through those images looking for signs of potentially diseased bulbs which often are identifiable by distinctive red stripes on the bulb’s leaves. The Selector machine then picks out the diseased bulbs and separates them from the others to prevent the disease from spreading. H2L describes the machine as the “world’s first autonomous tulip selection robot.” A video below shows the Selector in action sorting through a row of bulbs.  

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