Robot 'duck' keeps weeds out of rice paddies

Think of it as a Roomba for grains.

For rice farmers, ducks have been a viable way to keep their crops healthy -- they destroy weeds, eat bugs and fertilize crops without using harmful chemicals. And now, a Nissan technician might have an alternative when fowl isn't an option. He's testing a robot 'duck' that roams rice paddies, muddying the water to prevent weeds from getting enough sunlight to grow -- it's really a Roomba (and a cute one at that) for watery fields. Although it's a personal project, it's fully realized with GPS, a WiFi connection and solar power to minimize its environmental impact.

Nissan hasn't signaled intentions to mass-produce the robot. It does support the technician's efforts, though, so it may just be a matter of time before you see this adorable bot patrolling paddies. As it stands, robots like this might be particularly helpful for Japan. The country's interest in worker robots is spurred in part by a declining population and resulting staff shortages. Roboducks like this could take care of large rice farms without requiring as many workers.