Starting on October 1st, 2020, WeLASER aims to avoid the use of chemical products in the removal of weeds in agriculture by developing a new robotic system that uses a laser source for destroying weeds (cordis).

In the context of the world growing population and higher needs of reducing the uses of pesticides and fertilizers, WeLASER seeks more sustainable management. Mechanical solutions contribute to deteriorate soil properties, harm beneficial soil organisms and provide poor results for intra-row weeding. However, the WeLASER solution focuses on non-chemical weed management based on applying lethal doses of energy on the weed meristems using a high-power laser source. An AI-vision system discriminates crops from weeds and detects the position of the weed meristems to point the laser on them using a laser scanner. An autonomous robot carries these systems all over the field. A smart controller coordinates these systems and uses IoT and cloud computing techniques to manage agricultural knowledge. This technology will provide a clean solution to the weeding problem and will help to decrease significantly the chemicals in the environment.

WeLASER is a European innovation project funded within its Horizon-2020 program. It is coordinated by the Spanish Council for Scientific Research (CSIC) and has the participation of Futonics LASER (Germany), Laser Zentrum Hannover (Germany), Department of Plants and Environmental Sciences of the University of Copenhagen (Denmark), AGREENCULTURE SaS (France), the Coordinator of Farmers and Livestock Organizations (COAG) (Spain), the Department of Agricultural Sciences of the University of Bologna (Italy), the Institute for the Ecology of Industrial Areas (Poland), the Department of Agricultural Economics of the University of Ghent (Belgium) and Van den Borne Projecten BV (VDBP) (The Netherlands).

With the help of European funding, WeLASER will put to work a large group of actors and stakeholders to advance in increasing agricultural productivity using robotic systems while making the environment more sustainable and enhancing the health of animals and humans.