A Different Kind of Automated Plant: Robot Meets Backyard Gardener

Nov. 4, 2016

Backyard gardening is about to go to a whole new level thanks to a new automated personal farming machine.

I don’t have a green thumb. But it looks like that doesn’t matter much anymore thanks to the FarmBot Genesis.

Designed around the idea of knowing where your food comes from (because we often don’t), FarmBot for small-scale farming represents the intersection of automation, open source and the do-it-yourself maker movement.

Sliding along tracks, FarmBot's main arm moves day and night, seven days a week, sowing seeds in any pattern and density that you want. According to the creators, it can grow a wide variety of crops in the same area at the same time, while each crop is taken care of individually in an automated and optimized way.

FarmBot has an onboard camera and advanced computer vision system to monitor the garden, pulverizing weeds, for example, and showing how the garden changes over time to enable “smart farming” with each passing season.

An article on Smithsonian.com notes that this high-tech contraption has a very simple interface. The Internet-connected FarmBot is controlled via a web app that uses a Farmville-esque visual grid, letting you drag and drop the kind of plants you want into your digital garden.

A scheduler turns basic operations into custom sequences for seed injection, water and plant lifecycle. Built for easy assembly, its durability relies upon corrosion-resistant aluminum, stainless steel and 3D printed plastic.

Because the FarmBot is using open source, all of the software, hardware and CAD models are free. And a community forum enables collaboration, so you’ll never feel like you are farming alone.

About the Author

Stephanie Neil | Editor-in-Chief, OEM Magazine

Stephanie Neil has been reporting on business and technology for over 25 years and was named Editor-in-Chief of OEM magazine in 2018. She began her journalism career as a beat reporter for eWeek, a technology newspaper, later joining Managing Automation, a monthly B2B manufacturing magazine, as senior editor. During that time, Neil was also a correspondent for The Boston Globe, covering local news. She joined PMMI Media Group in 2015 as a senior editor for Automation World and continues to write for both AW and OEM, covering manufacturing news, technology trends, and workforce issues.

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