A small farming robot to manage a home garden. FarmBot project, as the future of farming, in reality, it’ll likely be mainly used mostly for small gardens, at least to start. The demo video suggests that a human might never need to interact with their plants again and that could be tempting to a certain type of farmer, one who wants their own produce without all the manual labor.
The FarmBot today has a seed planting tool and a watering tool. Let’s look at other functions a farm robot might have:
- Because the robot knows very precisely where it put each seed, anything not in those locations is a weed. Knowing this offers various weeding strategies, including the ability to tackle each weed within hours after it sprouts. There could be very precision application of weed killers, and they could be placed with such precision they might be stronger than usual. Mechanical weed destruction and removal is also possible. The system would also know when it failed, and has to summon a human. Bosch makes a weed killing robot for larger farms.
- Simple hyperspectral cameras might eventually lead to super understanding of how plants are doing, and near-perfect estimation of ripeness, as well as amounts of feed and water to apply, again with full precision.
- Insect pests could be spotted immediately, and some of them dealt with. It is not even out of the question they could be burned with lasers, which of course is super cool.
- Animal pests (stealing the food) could be detected and harassed with motion, lights, sound or even that bug-killing laser. The robot could be a very superb scarecrow. Of course, netting could also be used on the garden since the human rarely has to access it.
- The soil could be tilled by the robot. Analysis of the soil may make more sense to do remotely but it could be a service.
- The system could tell you exactly when to pick every plant for perfection, or what the best plant to pick is when you want something. It might even be able to harvest certain plants with the right attachment and put them in a basket for you to collect.
- The robot could anticipate frosts, requesting the humans to put a cover over the garden and even applying heat.
Entrepreneur Rory Aronson has developed the world’s first open-source CNC farming machine. The FarmBot Genesis, available to pre-order as a kit from July, is made from 3D printable plastic components, and can be used to remotely plant, water, and monitor a garden.
“After graduating with a degree in mechanical engineering, I decided I wanted to reinvent the way food is grown in order to adapt to the growing use of technology in people’s lives,” Aronson said. “When I thought about rebuilding the agricultural process, a robot is what I pictured. It is quite literally a robotic device that someone can control through their smartphone or laptop. It’s simple enough to use in your home but sophisticated enough to adapt to a larger scale.”