McConnel is testing a remote-controlled Robocut work platform that can identify dock leaves in grassland and selectively spray them with individually controlled nozzles.

In development for 18 months, the project was created to test and evaluate a range of technologies, the aim being to develop an autonomous system capable of identifying and spraying weeds without significant human labour.

The power unit of the prototype is a Robocut RC56 (56hp) fitted with Trimble GPS guidance. The spot sprayer utilises a digital camera to capture dock leaf images. A ground speed radar monitors forward speed.

The rest of the hardware includes an 80-litre spray tank with electric pump, a 1.5m spray boom and the nine Teejet PWM spray valves reduce the amount of chemical slurred before and after targeting. A microcomputer provides the required processing power to make the system work.

There are still a few things to fine-tune, but the concept is claimed to be 100% effective in short grass. The work continues to develop the system for working in more challenging conditions, such as longer grass.

When the development work is finished, the spot sprayer will be available as a detachable option and interchangeable with any Robocut. It is still early days, but the machine can also identify and spray dandelions and thistles and the company is also working on a couple of other ‘smart agricultural’ implements that it hopes to preview in the near future.