Based in San Luis Obispo, California, FarmBot is a manufacturing startup that set foot in the agricultural robotics market in 2013. In 2022, they plan to incorporate Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML) in their agriculture bots in the coming 18 to 24 months.
The company informed us that the addition of AI and ML features into the FarmBot software “will allow for object and plant identification from photo scans of the garden”. The company solely uses open-source software, hardware, and data platform to design its farm bots.
Co-founders Rory Aronson and Ricky Carlino started the company by “part-tim[ing] at other jobs until FarmBot had a good financial footing. In 2017 Farmbot became able to sell enough products to support the cost of running the company” shared Marc Ronald, director of marketing and sales, and reliability engineer.
They are now serving globally and have recently collaborated with students at Curio located in the Netherlands. It is an interdisciplinary vocational school where the students have developed a prototype of a tool called FarmBot Gripper. This is an addition to their already existing tools that makes the device sharper and more capable.
The gripper helps the FarmBot to sow, take care of the plant, and to harvest automatically and efficiently. The company offers its hardware units of bots and software services at a fairly expensive price range for pre-order, with the cartesian bots ranging between $1,695 to $5,295.
The cartesian technology
The design of the hardware resembles a 3D printer similar to the FORMART 2. The FarmBot is controlled by a computer-numerical-control computer to let its head move around the X, Y, and Z axes. The robot is installed with sensors that help locate spots on farmland to deposit and water the seeds, detect and remove weeds, and monitor the garden.
The devices namely FarmBot Genesis XL v1.6, FarmBot Express v1.1, and others cover an area ranging between 3m x 6m to 1.1m x ~2.7m. So they are designed to be used in gardens. The bot’s ‘Quiet Mode’ is a stepper driving mode. When enabled, it cancels the noise generated by the bot’s movements.
The Trinamic TMC2130 step drivers are only available for the previous generation’s FarmBot Genesis v1.5. “Aside from sensing and computing systems, Farmbot also released Quiet Mode, Shared Sequences and Multi-Variable Support in the FarmBot Operating System in the last 12 months,” said Ronald.
Software and OS analysis
The bot uses Raspberry Pi to connect the hardware and the FarmBot web app to establish communication between the two. The interface of the app “is similar to [Zynga’s FarmVille] video game,” informed Ronald. This is a perfect example of the gamification of a real-life activity. The web-based app helps the human control the robot.
The Raspberry Pi that runs on its custom operating system (OS) is called FarmBot OS. The OS communicates with the circuit board of these bots’ microcontrollers called Ardunio or Farmdunio. This communication leads to the collection of data from sensors and rotary encoders.
Amalgamation of habits
The amalgamation seems seamless because of the use of premium materials and a well-thought-out business plan. The FarmBot takes care of home gardening all by itself and can immediately take action as per the condition of the garden. The app is compatible with all the operating systems and no coded is needed because of open-sourcing.
FarmBot’s robotic device focuses on a family’s sustenance and eating habits. If you have a garden, a small space outside your home, or a community garden, then this is a perfect pick to live a healthy and nourishing lifestyle. This will in turn help you accommodate home-grown vegetables, fruits, and herbs in your diet.
YouTube: FarmBot – Take Back Control
Photo credit: The images used are owned by FarmBot and have been provided for press usage.