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The Air Force will give you $150,000 to blast its weeds with a laser

Amar Toor, @amartoo
November 11, 2011
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With the holiday season just around the corner, the Air Force has been busy compiling its yuletide wish list, and it's got some pretty strange requests. Included on its latest call for small business innovations is a curious proposal for a project called "Floral Disruptor – Directed Energy Weed Abatement and Prevention Tool." According to Air Force documents, this project calls for "a device that uses directed energy technology to prevent and abate unwanted plants (weeds) in areas that require control or defoliation." Translation: a ray gun to blast weeds. Turns out, the Air Force spends a handsome chunk of cash each year on weed control -- so much so, in fact, that it's willing to pay $150,000 in grant money to anyone whose device can "deter, disrupt, deny, or degrade the desired objective." Private companies have already begun testing devices that annihilate weeds with lasers, microwave radiation and even sound, which is why the Air Force feels confident that the approach can bear fruit. But before you start entertaining fantasies of mass botanical killings, keep in mind that the government will only accept solutions that don't "target personnel or wildlife." As a Force rep explained to Wired, the idea is to develop an eagle-eyed contraption that lessens its dependence upon costly chemicals and pesticides. Besides, have you seen the Army's front lawn? It's immaculate.

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