FarmBot – Opensourced farming robot inspired from 3D printing

Imagine a kitchen farm that grows plants by itself independently and works like a 3D printer.. is it difficult to envision? Well don’t fret, it exists, and it’s called the Farmbot!

The FarmBot project began in 2011 and was created by Rory Aronson while he was studying mechanical engineering at the California Polytechnic State University.

Aronson acquired an organic agriculture course where he learned about robotic tractors which utilize machine vision for weed detection and herbicide removal.

In September of 2013, he published a paper outlining his goals to “Grow a community that produces free and open-sourced hardware plans, software, data, and documentation enabling everyone to build and operate a farming machine”.

From then on, his project skyrocketed.

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His project is a response to the 60% increase food production needed due to the growth in world population to between 8 – 10 billion by 2050 and the potential of precision agriculture to reduce the environmental impacts of farming by reducing water use, energy, transportation, petrochemicals and time required to grow crops.

In March of 2014, the project became funded by various partners including the Shuttleworth Foundation, as well as core developers (Tim Evers; firmware developer, Rick Carlino; software developer). The open-source community “” was created to support the development of the project, while Aronson launched the companies to provide hardware kits and software services to serve as a funding source to maintain this community.

100% openly sourced, the various Farm-Bot models can either be delivered as a kit, or be built at home using a 3D printer. The community has been extremely active and is constantly working on new tools or extensions; continuously measuring, adapting to new climates, using renewable energies, or customizing installations.

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An app for PC & smartphone have also been created to help customers maintain their farm, choose the best and optimum locations for the plant base, and to receive consistent data to wherever you are. If 3D printing is not an option for you, you can order a Farm Bot kit on their website, prices ranging from $2595-3795 for their basic to their XL size versions.

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If 3D printing is not an option for you, you can order a Farm Bot kit on their website, prices ranging from $2595-3795 for their basic to their XL size versions.

Not on the range of everyone? Well we could estimate that it is only the begin on this new technology and that the cost will decrease little by little. Also, about the technology, the website estimate that it is possible to get a return on investment on your own production of fruits & vegetables in 3 to 5 years (for the standard version)

This project became rapidly successful for non-professional users, including 600 active Farmbots being used world-wide today.

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“Rather than making incremental changes to existing equipment, FarmBot takes new approaches to precision agriculture, tearing down everything from the past and starting from the ground up”, says Aronson 1 . “By simply placing the tooling equipment on a set of tracks, rather than a free-driving tractor, the system has the ability to extremely precise and reposition tooling in exact locations repeatedly over time”.

Overall, Farmbot is an extremely impressive innovation that could be the solution for many local and biological food production industries and non-professional users around the world.

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