Green-fingered robots are coming to a garden near you.
The FarmBot Genesis, developed by a team of three based in California, can sow seeds, weed and water with unrivalled precision. The Genesis, which measures 5 feet by 10 feet, slides along tracks installed on the side of raised beds. The gizmo can move side to side, up and down and forward and back, while the main arm of the bot performs the planting, weeding and watering tasks. FarmBot is connected to a web app resembling FarmVille, where the user decides what they want to plant, such as potatoes, peas and artichokes. The robot then spaces these plants at exactly the correct distances and can even monitor weather conditions. Nothing is left to chance. FarmBot founder Rory Aronson explains why this robot will revolutionize gardening.
Why did you decide to create a robot to do the gardening?
The idea came to me when I took an organic agriculture class in college. A local farmer came to talk with us about his latest tractor technology. I thought to myself, “That’s cool, but where is the high-tech farming equipment for the home gardener?” FarmBot is my answer to that question.
How does FarmBot work?
FarmBot works like a very large 3D printer but instead of extruding plastic, it plants seeds, waters them, and uses sensors to learn about the soil, plants and environment in order to farm smarter over time.
Could this robot help to plant food in poor places?
Not right now. FarmBot is fairly expensive equipment at this time. Most poor people have lots of time, but not lots of money. Whereas people with more money usually have very little time. Over time we hope to bring the cost of FarmBot down.
How can FarmBot help the environment?
By our analysis, FarmBot grown veggies emit 30 percent less CO2 than average US veggies bought at the supermarket.
What kind of technological improvements will the crowdsourcing campaign fund?
We will continue to develop new tooling and more software features, as well as reach economies of scale that can help bring the cost down for future versions.