A hobby for busy city dwellers or the future of agriculture?
Interesting new trends in agriculture include planning “green” cities and urban farming. Let us take a look at a tool which could make such projects easier. FarmBot is a proposal for backyard garden enthusiasts, who have not been managing to find the time to cultivate their little plots of land, but have now found a helper.
The shape of the robot is similar to that of a 3D printer; however, it cultivates land rather than prints objects. The FarmBot can be operated online, via a web browser and using software that is available for free as project authors are intent on developing and popularizing the robot. The tool provides a wide range of possibilities, from planning crops to programming regular irrigation and fertilization. What is more, FarmBot offers analytical tools which help the users to take the best decisions concerning crops. The authors of the robot claim that is can be used on a minor or a major scale, but up to now their work has focused on smaller plots of land.
The first job for FarmBot that comes to mind is cultivating a small vegetable path without the user allocating much time to the task. Since the robot can be operated online, it is possible to look after the crops despite being in a different location, for example on a business trip or at an airport. Automation of the appliance is advanced enough for the user to delegate decisions to the software! At the moment the idea is more of a geeky gadget, but the future of the project looks very promising. The FarmBot designer is due to launch a campaign on Kickstarter and he is planning to develop the project on an industrial scale, so that the robot can assist professional farmers in their work.
Effects of the scale
The last competitive advantage of FarmBot is the open source nature of the product. The authors allow for modifications of robot hardware and software, so that the tool can be customized. Feedback is collected at an online forum, and software exchange is encouraged. The innovation is a new trend on the market, and makes a very optimistic impression.