an engineer working for japanese carmaker nissan has built a robot duck to help farmers reduce the use of herbicide and pesticide on their rice crops. the compact robot is designed to mimic the natural use of ducks that paddle around in flooded paddy fields, tear up weeds and snack on insects, with their manure acting as additional fertilizer.
images courtesy of nissan
the aigamo robot takes its name from the breed of duck used in the modern version of this ancient practice. it weighs 1.5 kilograms and is about the size of a large robot vacuum cleaner. two rotating rubber brushes on its underside take the place of a duck’s feet, which oxygenate the water by stirring it up and preventing weeds from taking root.
it uses wi-fi, batteries, solar power, and GPS to navigate the fields. a prototype version of the robot is currently being tested in the yamagata prefecture in northeastern japan. inventions like this could help protect rice farming in japan, which is threatened by declining consumption and an ageing population.
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