Bud-trimming robots? Is nothing sacred?

A Boston-based startup has developed a robot bud-trimmer that uses cameras and computer vision to determine bud from stems of a marijuana plant.

A prototype unit developed by Bloom Automation can trim an 8-18 inch marijuana branch in about four minutes, Business Insider reports.

As we recently featured in a story about a longtime California bud-trimmer , the work, which is to prune stems for buds using small scissors for 10 or more hours a day is physically taxing,  monotonous and, depending on who you are working for, potentially dangerous as well.

If Bloom Automation could increase the accuracy of its invention, which is currently costs $20,000 per machine, the robots could someday replace human trimmers at grower/processor facilities.

“We’re not aiming to take anyone’s job — just improve efficiency and alleviate a significant pain point,” Jon Gowa, CEO of Bloom Automation told Business Insider. The machine actually requires a human operator to make sure the branches load correctly.

We’re awaiting a response from our bud-trimming expert to see how she feels about the idea of robots taking away a job she’s taken pride in for nearly 15 years.

The robot is roughly three-feet-tall. High-res cameras shoot multiple angles and a razor over a conveyor belt cuts away the leaves. The robot can trim about a pound of weed a day, which seems on average with a human trimmer. Gowa hopes the robot can increase its accuracy to 80% of human worker’s ability.

Bloom Automation hopes to begin testing the robot-trimmer with Colorado cultivation sites in Summer 2017 with retail sales for mid-level cultivators starting toward the end of the year.

The entrepreneur hopes that growers will still employ trimmers, but maybe now in roles related to feeding plant material into the robot-trimmers.

After all, Gowa tells Business Insider, “While autonomous, they’re not fully autonomous. They need an operator,” Gowa says. “With the deployment of robots, you also get employment.”

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