Paul Mikesell, the CEO of Seattle-based Carbon Robotics, announced the development of LaserWeeder, an innovative solution that effectively eliminates pests and weeds from farms

A groundbreaking solution has emerged for farmers seeking a rapid and precise method to eliminate weeds from their fields. Carbon Robotics, a company at the forefront of AI technology, is now delivering its cutting-edge LaserWeeder to farms across the United States. This advanced machine harnesses the combined power of lasers and robotics to effectively eradicate weeds from agricultural fields.

According to Carbon Robotics, weeds are among the most arduous, time-consuming, and difficult aspects of farming. In an email to Fox Business, the company highlighted that their LaserWeeder has the capability to eradicate over 200,000 weeds per hour, resulting in substantial cost savings of up to 80% in weed control.

During a recent interview with Fox Business, Carbon Robotics CEO and founder, Paul Mikesell, explained his motivation behind creating the LaserWeeder. With a personal connection to the farming community through his friends, Mikesell combined his expertise in computer science, AI deep learning, and business to develop this innovative solution.

Carbon Robotics CEO and founder, Paul Mikesell

Paul Mikesell, based in Seattle where his company is located, shared that there is significant vegetable cultivation in the region spanning Washington, California, Oregon, and Idaho. This agricultural backdrop served as the catalyst for Mikesell’s pursuit of developing the LaserWeeder. Recognizing the abundance of venture capital invested in AI and technology, Mikesell was motivated by the absence of such investment in the agricultural sector, which sparked his determination to bring AI advancements to the farming industry.

Recognizing a significant void in the industry, Mikesell embarked on the development of an AI-driven agricultural solution to address the problem of weed identification and removal on a large scale. The result of this endeavor is the LaserWeeder, a formidable tool spanning 20 feet in width. Consisting of three rows equipped with ten lasers each, the LaserWeeder is towed behind a tractor. With thirty lasers in operation, the unit traverses the field, meticulously targeting and eliminating weeds with exceptional precision, bypassing the desired plants and effectively eradicating the weeds, as described by Mikesell.


Continuing the conversation, Mikesell emphasized the remarkable efficiency of the LaserWeeder, stating that it accomplishes the equivalent work of approximately 70 individuals. He further explained that the tool utilizes a thermal energy process to disrupt the cells of the targeted plants, effectively addressing the weed issue at its core. Mikesell highlighted the benefits of this approach, noting that it significantly reduces labor costs and proves advantageous for farmers facing challenges related to labor availability.

Mikesell explained the training process of the LaserWeeder, stating that they have educated the unit on distinguishing between various weed species. The focus was on teaching it how to safeguard the crops while exclusively targeting the weeds. The training encompassed enabling the system to comprehend the size of the weeds, considering both their area and thickness. Once equipped with this knowledge, the deep learning AI neural network is connected to the array of lasers, allowing the LaserWeeder to efficiently eliminate weeds according to its learned parameters.

According to Mikesell, the LaserWeeder possesses comprehensive field visibility, perceiving everything present in its surroundings. Notably, it operates without the need for herbicides or chemicals, making it an environmentally friendly solution. Mikesell further emphasized that manual weed-pulling by laborers becomes unnecessary with the implementation of this technology. By eliminating the use of herbicides, the LaserWeeder contributes to a more consistent and healthier crop growth process. Mikesell also highlighted the significant improvement in crop yield that arises from avoiding crop damage caused by herbicides, resulting in substantial yield enhancements.

Mikesell mentioned that farmers can make use of the LaserWeeder on an annual basis. He expressed that there is a vast untapped potential in the field of agriculture, which many people fail to realize. Mikesell explained that complete eradication of weeds is not the objective, as weed seeds can remain dormant in the soil for up to seven years. Drawing an analogy to homeowners’ experiences, he noted that weeds are a constant presence due to their natural tendency to proliferate.

an irrigation canal runs past farmland in Lemoore

Mikesell emphasized that weeds have various means of dispersal, including airborne transport, water systems, streams, rivers, and even irrigation cycles. Consequently, weed infestation is an ongoing and recurring process. Drawing a parallel to traditional farming practices, he explained that just as field workers or herbicide spraying are regular tasks, the LaserWeeder can be employed in a similar manner to effectively manage weeds.

According to the CEO, the farming community has responded positively to the LaserWeeder, and the company is actively engaging with farmers to ensure that their needs are met. As for Mikesell’s perspective on AI, he expressed concerns regarding privacy and surveillance as potential issues to consider.

He further explained:

“Just as we can swiftly and accurately differentiate between weeds and plants, AI can be used to swiftly identify individuals.”

Mikesell emphasized the positive aspects of AI, stating that it will create valuable tools for everyone. He highlighted the significance of farming as a crucial aspect of society, as it is responsible for providing food to the population.

According to the CEO, the slow adoption of AI in farming can be attributed to the fact that AI technology has primarily been developed in urban centers to address urban challenges. He expressed that there has been a lack of awareness regarding the immense potential in agriculture, and this gap has persisted for an extended period. He emphasized their mission to bridge this gap and assist in unlocking the opportunities in farming.

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