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  • Strategic Elements (SOR) subsidiary Stealth Technologies has demonstrated the leveraging potential of its automation and robotics platform, AxV, for the global agriculture sector
  • Stealth, alongside the Australian Herbicide Resistance Initiative and the University of Western Australia School of Agriculture and Environment, have achieved what it calls “early-stage validation” of the AxV platform
  • The agriculture industry typically uses red-green-blue cameras and imaging to distinguish weeds from crops by colour
  • Stealth says this approach us limited, as crops and weeds can often being of similar or the same colour
  • Testing conducted on a broad-acre farm in WA showed Stealth’s sensor and mapping technology could successfully distinguish same-coloured weeds from crops
  • Looking forward, Stealth will now conduct further optimisation and engineering in the lead-up to an expanded technology demonstration across numerous potential end user reference sites
  • Strategic Elements shares are up 1.19 per cent, trading at 42.5 cents each

Strategic Elements (SOR) subsidiary Stealth Technologies has demonstrated the potential of its automation and robotics platform, AxV, for the global agriculture sector.

Strategic Elements is an Australian Federal Government-registered pooled development fund with a mandate to back Australian innovation.

The company’s numerous wholly owned subsidiaries develop a range of technologies, including robotics and automation, self-charging batteries, transparent flexible memory technology and more.

Stealth, together with collaborators the Australian Herbicide Resistance Initiative (AHRI) and the University of Western Australia (UWA) School of Agriculture and Environment, has achieved what it calls “early-stage validation” of the AxV platform.

According to Stealth, the advanced weed technologies that are already available in the agriculture sector typically use red-green-blue cameras and different forms of imaging to distinguish weeds from crops by colour.

This approach, it says, has serious limitations in broad-acre cropping, where weeds are often the same colour as crops.

Stealth is therefore taking an alternative approach by leveraging the sophisticated sensor, mapping and localisation technology that it has already developed for use in its autonomous security vehicle collaboration with U.S. Fortune 100 company Honeywell.

Development update and progress

In developing the platform, Stealth, AHRI and UWA collected logistics and in-field scoping data from a large-scale broad acre-farm in Western Australia to detect weeds protruding above the canopy of a barley crop.

The company then developed weed detection prototype hardware and installed the technology in a combine harvester for use during harvest.

Algorithm testing compared the location of weeds detected by the technology with known locations of weeds and showed, on a limited data set, that the hardware was able to detect 100 per cent of weeds with a height threshold of 20 centimetres above crop canopy.

Significantly, the technology was also able to detect weeds from the crop despite both being brown in colour and near impossible to distinguish for the human eye.

Stealth Elements Managing Director Charles Murphy said the company’s strategy to build a platform that has applications across multiple industry sectors was starting to fulfil its promise.

“Our commercialisation strategy is to collaborate with end users to solve a real, existing problem with automation,” Charles said.

“From an Australian domestic market context other sectors like logistics and mining also have attractive opportunities and we are very active in seeking the right partners with which to collaborate,” the director added.

The company estimates the annual cost of weeds in the Australian cropping system to be $3.3 billion alone, with the total cost of weeds in the U.S. sitting at US$34.5 billion (roughly A$45.5 billion) per annum.

Stealth is set to conduct further optimisation and engineering, which it envisages will lead to an expanded technology demonstration across numerous potential end user reference sites.

Strategic Elements shares are up 1.55 per cent, trading at 42.5 cents at 11:55 am AEDT.

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