Joe Jones, the inventor of iRobot’s Roomba, has a new project in the works. His company, Franklin Robotics, is crowdfunding for Tertill, 2.5-pound, solar-powered robot that lives in your garden and intelligently identifies – and whacks – your unwanted pesky plants.
Tertill uses its stored energy efficiently, and knows the best times to patrol the garden and hunt for weeds. The robot regularly whacks newly sprouted weeds with its string trimmer and scrubs out emerging cotyledons with its wheels.
Tertill goes looking for weeds every day, so if they sprout again, the robot will be there to quickly whack it. Since the weed will never grow enough to have leaves, it won’t be able to photosynthesize, and it will run out of energy and die.
Tertill’s simple method of telling weeds from desirable plants is based on height: A plant tall enough to touch the front of Tertill’s shell activates a sensor that makes the robot turn away. A plant short enough to pass under the shell activates a different sensor that tells Tertill to fire up the string trimmer.
If you have tiny plants or seedlings, fear not. Franklin Robotics provides protective collars you can place around your plants to tell Tertill to steer clear. Other versions of collars double as slug repellents (and a 3D-printable-design is available on Franklin Robotics’ website).
The team at Franklin Robotics is hoping to make gardening more accessible to everyone. Tertill makes it easier to maintain a chemical- and herbicide-free organic garden, and allows people with challenged mobility to enjoy the pastime of gardening. Tertill is also perfect for gardeners who don’t have time – or the patience – to regularly pick weeds.
The Massachusetts-based robotics startup is currently raising funds for Tertill, and with about two weeks left in their Kickstarter campaign, they are already approaching 200 percent of their goal funds. After dozens of Kickstarter backers from Japan, Australia, France, Germany, and more have pushed for international delivery of Tertill prototypes, Franklin Robotics has opened up shipping to the entire world.
Tertill is $249 on Kickstarter right now, and is expected to ship in early 2018. Future Tertill models will include other functions, such as pest repellents, a scarecrow function, and soil quality sensors.