What’s also new to the robotic world are robots for your gardens. And for your fields, if you are a farmer. These are remarkable. A Swiss company called ecoRobotix started working on this back in 2011 and has come up with a series of weed killers that are autonomous robots that will go through a field of crops and get rid of pesky weeds without disturbing the crops. They detect the weeds, stop at each one, and spray a touch of weed killer on top of it, then move on to the next one. The spray doesn’t touch any of the crop. These bots are solar powered, and through artificial intelligence, can work for 12 hours straight completely by themselves. No need for the farmer to hang around. Now that’s progress. They have cameras for detecting the weeds and two protruding arms that reach down and spray the herbicide directly on top of the weed. Weed killer companies are getting worried because these robots use 20 times less herbicide, or they can also use more natural weed killers that won’t contaminate the ground. The John Deere company is getting into this, too. They bought the California-based agriculture tech firm Blue River Technology last year.
That’s for the farmers. Now on to bots for the home gardener.
There’s a cute little bot called Tertill that was created by roboticist Joe Jones. He invented the Roomba for Franklin Robotics. This little bot is designed to live in your home garden to get rid of the weeds in all manner of weather. It’s solar powered and weatherproof. And completely organic. Can you imagine? No more worry about chemicals contaminating anything. This little thing just wanders around in your garden and cuts the weeds down and leaves your crops alone.
Now how this little bot works is it detects the plants to avoid harming by how tall the plant is. It has a sensor that lets it know it has bumped into a flower or vegetable and so it turns away and heads off for something else. Any plant that is short enough to fit under the bot will get dealt with. So to avoid a problem with this, the gardener will have to surround each plant, or a row of them, until they are grown enough for the bot to detect. The company provides collars for your plants for this. Tertill will recognize these collars and will turn away.
This little bot works every day, all day long, so the weeds don’t get a chance to grow very big. After your garden is established, the collars won’t be needed. The little bot will turn away from your plants and go get the weeds. It uses a spinning string type, weed whacker method of trimming the weeds away. Cuts them off right down to the ground. Working every day, that’s all the weeds get to grow. So they’re always small when the bot finds them. They never get the chance to grow the leaves they need to gather sunlight so they can grow. Eventually the weeds give up the ghost.
There’s no need to recharge the bot because it’s solar powered. The bot stores the sunlight in its battery, which doesn’t need replacing at intervals. It slows down it’s job during cloudy days, but picks up speed on sunny ones. All day long. This little bot can cover small gardens by itself, but if you have a large garden, then you might want more than one. It uses a four wheel drive system that helps keep it upright so it won’t fall over on rough or soft ground, can even climb slopes. It uses several kinds of sensors to keep itself out of trouble. To keep it inside a garden, a barrier will be needed, but it won’t have to be a large or tall one. Just one tall enough for the bot to recognize. Can use a small fence even. The same principle as the Roomba.
Tertill gives gardeners the opportunity to grow organically. No need for herbicides, or forgetting to weed your garden because your life got in the way, and no weeds to use up all the fertilizer you put in your garden for your crops. And it helps people with physical limitations by taking care of the most arduous job of gardening: weeding. Now that is robotic fabulousness.