Two Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology (Jkuat) students have bagged Ksh828,000 after trouncing nine other students from African, Middle-Eastern and European countries.
Michael Mwaisakenyi and Ken Gicira on Tuesday, March 17, emerged the world finalists of the Imagine Cup – Microsoft’s premier international competition for young developers.
The two innovated a weeding bot – an automated robot using artificial intelligence to identify and remove weeds from rows of crops – and will be awarded the prize money at the Microsoft Build – an annual conference event held by Microsoft for software engineers and web developers – in May 2020.
The weeding bot, innovated by the two students, aids farmers to manage weeds without the use of herbicides.
“There is an opportunity to eradicate weeds mechanically without the use of herbicide while still increasing crop yield and reducing pollution.
“The competition gave us an opportunity to use our creativity, passion and knowledge of technology to create an innovation that is beneficial to the local farmer,” Mwaisakenyi stated.
It also uses intelligence to separate weeds from crops through a camera installed in the machine.
“It has employed a four-wheel drive and four-wheel steering giving it the flexibility to employ different and suitable steering strategies with much ease,” Mwaisakenyi explained.
“We are passionate about solving the issues of food production through technology because food is essential to life,” he added.
The competition is always used as a platform to motivate students to create innovations centred around health, social and environmental issues.