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FarmBot: The World’s First Open Source Autonomous Farming Robot

FarmBot, makers of an open source at home farming robot, recently closed pre-orders for their Genesis bot which raised in excess of $600,000 of their $100,000 goal.

The Genesis, FarmBot’s first hardware and software product, is capable of performing the entire farming process autonomously. It’s able to precisely plant seeds for a whole range of veggies and will individually water each plant, monitor soil conditions and automatically remove any weeds. The software comes pre-loaded with data about 33 common crops and it automatically spaces the varying plants appropriately and provides the right amount of water as needed at specific times throughout the plant’s lifecycle.

The FarmBot aims to bring automated, sustainable farming direct to gardens around the world. No farming or gardening knowledge is necessary, the bot just needs power and water which can either come from the grid or via solar and rainwater collectors.

The bot aims to provide a cheaper and more sustainable alternative to grocery stores. A 1.5m by 3m FarmBot farm can continuously grow all of the veggies for one person’s needs when used year-round. Farming in this way creates 25% fewer CO2 emissions than standard US vegetable farming. FarmBot grown veggies are significantly less expensive than those purchased at the grocery store. The return on your $2,900 investment to purchase the FarmBot kit is estimated to be between three and five years.

FarmBot are also catering to potential customers who can’t afford the price tag by making all of the designs, parts and software open source. On the FarmBot website the company have provided access to all the CAD design files, code and documentation including step by step assembly instructions. The company aims to build a community of makers who will provide solutions to the future of farming as well as improve the FarmBot hardware and software over time.

Even the data used to power FarmBot is open source as it uses public domain crop and growing information from OpenFarm.cc.

The Genesis bot is similar in concept to a 3D printer which can move in 3D space with incredible accuracy. Just like other 3D printers, the user can program the specifics of what is to be made. In the application of agriculture, this takes the form of programming in which crops are to be grown and where – both in terms of their physical location within the growing area and the geographic location of the installation. This enables the bot to know how best to grow the specific plants in the specific weather conditions.

The brain of the bot is provided by a Raspberry Pi 3, a tiny low-cost high power computer. The mechanical parts of the bot are powered by Arduino Mega 2560 microcontroller. The bot can be managed and programmed from anywhere in the world via a web application that runs on desktop, tablet or mobile devices.

For more information, visit the FarmBot website.

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