Automated weed scouting and weed destruction has typically been performed using classification systems able to classify a set group of species known a priori. This greatly limits deployability as classification systems must be retrained for any field with a different set of weed species present within them. In order to overcome this limitation, this project works towards developing a clustering approach to weed scouting which can be utilized in any field without the need for prior species knowledge. We demonstrate our system using challenging data collected in the field from an agricultural robotics platform. We show that considerable improvements can be made by (i) learning low-dimensional (bottleneck) features using a deep convolutional neural network to represent plants in general and (ii) tying views of the same area (plant) together. Deploying this algorithm on in-field data collected by AgBotII, we are able to uccessfully cluster cotton plants from grasses without prior knowledge or training for the specific plants in the field.
This project was presented during FIRA 2020 as part of the Scientific Seminar organised by Robagri.