Strategic Elements’ subsidiary Stealth Technologies has achieved new milestones, upgrading its hardware and software of its weed detection vehicle.

Tech venture firm Strategic Elements (ASX:SOR) continues to break new ground with its fully-owned subsidiary Stealth Technologies.

The company announced this morning that Stealth has achieved several key development milestones with its sophisticated weed detection technology.

Stealth confirmed that it has successfully improved the hardware and software components of the technology, as it aims to tackle the spread of weeds that’s costing farmers tens of billions of dollars in production losses globally.

Stealth demonstrated that it was able to dramatically reduce the size and weight of the sensors, enabling them to  be installed on a range of farm equipment such as boom sprayers or utes.

Potentially, the sensors could also be installed in drones, in addition to the header of a combine harvester.

The proprietary software and algorithms have also been upgraded, which will enable weeds to be detected in crops other than wheat (for example, in barley).

The software improvements have been made to system design to allow the assembly of composite point cloud, enabling it to deliver higher weed detection accuracy.


Further testing

Stealth’s weed detection technology has been validated at an early stage, following collaboration work with the Australian Herbicide Resistance Initiative, and the University of Western Australia School of Agriculture and Environment.

The hardware and software upgrades announced today will be further tested and optimised in August at two separate farm sites in WA.

One of these is the UWA farm research facility in Pingelly, a site approximately two hours southeast of Perth, targeting one paddock of wheat.

The other testing site will be in Gillingarra, located two hours north of Perth, which will target two separate paddocks – one with wheat and another with a different type of crop such as barley.

Results of these testings will be completed and made available in September.

SOR confirms that a successful outcome of the tests will lead to aspects of the upgraded technology being included into an expanded trial to be conducted in November this year.

This program will see up to 10 farms utilise the Stealth technology solution during the harvesting season.


Big global opportunity

Current weed detection technologies typically use RGB cameras and different forms of imaging that distinguish weeds and crops through colour.

But this has serious limitations in cropping where weeds are often the same colour as crops.

Stealth’s technology has taken a different approach, and uses a sophisticated sensor and mapping technology which is already used in its Autonomous Security Vehicle (ASV) collaboration with US Fortune 100 company, Honeywell.

The company aims to deploy the technology to farms around the world where large-scale crop farming exists.

This includes not just crops such as wheat and barley, but could be extended to corn, canola, and other large-scale crop types.

In terms of economic benefit for farmers, SOR believes the technology could dramatically decrease herbicide input costs to farming, whilst maximising crop yields and at the same time being more environmentally friendly.

The excessive use of chemicals and production loss costs have been significant issues for the global agricultural industry.

The estimated cost of weeds in Australian cropping systems alone is at A$3.3 billion annually, and in the US these costs are estimated at $US34.5billion.


Stealth’s Autonomous Security Vehicle (AxV)

Apart from weed technology, Stealth has been busy with autonomous security vehicle  (AxV) projects.

The company  has been collaborating with global giant Honeywell to build AxVs for the correctional sector.

These vehicles are thought to be the first of its kind anywhere in the world, with final discussions now underway to finalise a commercialisation agreement.

In May, the vehicle was successfully deployed for live operations site acceptance testing (SAT) at WA’s Eastern Goldfields Regional Prison correctional facility.

Earlier this month, Stealth was commissioned to design and construct an autonomous drone carrying vehicle, in collaboration with the Defence Science Technology Group (part of the Australian Department of Defence) and the University of Western Australia.

The vehicle will be designed with the capacity to automate detection and sensing of chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear (CBRN) agents used in modern warfare.

This article was developed in collaboration with Strategic Elements, a Stockhead advertiser at the time of publishing.  

This article does not constitute financial product advice. You should consider obtaining independent advice before making any financial decisions.