We started testing the Oz at the MSU Hort Farm this summer. It is an electric compact autonomous robot guided by RTK-GPS. It doesn’t discriminate crops and weeds, but simply drives a straight line (more or less depending on GPS and obstacles!) with a small toolbar to which you can attach various things. You map its route by 1) marking the beginning and end of the first row; 2) specifying the desired number of rows and distance between them; 3) adjusting the toolbar height for optimal engagement of tools; and 4) letting her rip.
We’ve been able to plant and weed a field of turnips ‘autonomously’ (if you don’t count us getting it unstuck and trouble shooting various error messages!) and have tested a few different in-row tools so far. The biggest challenges have been less than perfect precision given 1) sometimes limited RTK-GPS signal in our area; 2) need for very flat, obstacle free seed bed. I think we may need to get the second set of wheels they offer to improve stability.
Despite our learning curve and above-mentioned limitations, we felt pretty good producing turnips with zero hand weeding. An easy crop I know, but still…
Below are videos of the finger weeding (done at about 2 weeks) and between row knives (done 2-4 weeks).