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Roomba’s inventor creates a weed-pulling robot for the garden
Jill Odom | June 16, 2017
solar powered robotic weed puller

Photo: Franklin Robotics

Probably one of the most dreaded chores for the average homeowner is having to pull up weeds in the garden, and often they will turn to professionals with the tools to take out the invaders en masse.

Franklin Robotics and the inventor of the Roomba, Joe Jones, have introduced an outdoor version of the famed robotic vacuum, which is designed to trundle around in the garden and prevent weeds from being established.

Called the Tertill (pronounced like turtle) this 2.5-pound robot is solar powered and uses a spinning string trimmer to cut off weeds near the ground. Using a capacitive sensor, it can determine what plants it has brushed against and if they are tall or short. Following the basic metric that weeds are short and plants are tall, it cuts the weeds every day until they lose their energy and die.

For growing plants that are still short like a weed, users are provided protective metal collars that will cause the Tertill to move away. The robot does need at least a two-inch barrier around the garden space to prevent it from wondering away. It is designed to monitor around 100 square feet, which Franklin Robotics deemed the standard size of an American garden.

“Tertill is a small robot that lives in a vegetable or flower garden, and every day it will charge itself up in the sunlight. When the battery gets full, it wanders around the garden, avoids plants and obstacles and takes care of the weeding,” Rory MacKean, Franklin Robotics CEO told Digital Trends.  “By addressing one of the more frustrating aspects of gardening, we see Tertill as a way of encouraging people to start a garden, or to continue to enjoy the activity.”

The Tertill features diagonal wheels that help make it stable on slopes and able to navigate soft soil, sand and mulch well.

Currently the Tertill is a fever dream on Kickstarter and those interested in this mini weed remover can pre-order one for $225. Shipping is currently expected to take place in March 2018, but first Franklin Robotics has to reach its goal of $120,000 by July 12 for the project to be funded.

As for how effective the Tertill is, only time will tell if it will be success like its predecessor, the Roomba.

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