FarmBot Unveils New CNC Gardening Robot Models

Across the Northern Hemisphere it is now summer and the growing season is in full swing. Vigorous plants that will soon bear tasty fruit are springing forth from the soil, but unfortunately so are a lush carpet of weeds that require the constant attention of the gardener. “If only there were a machine that could take that on!” she cries, and as it happens she’s in luck.

The FarmBot is an open-source robotic vegetable grower able to take care of all aspects of sowing and tending a vegetable plot. We first saw them five years as a semifinalist in the first Hackaday Prize. This is a CNC machine for the raised beds of your backyard garden. Give it power, water, and a WiFi connection, and FarmBot goes into service planting, watering, weeding, and monitoring the soil. Now they’ve shipped over a thousand of their Genesis model and today have announced of a pair of new models that promise to make their technology more accessible than it ever has been.

FarmBot moisture sensor and watering head
FarmBot has a tool changer. Soil moisture sensor and watering heads are shown here.

In a nod to Tesla, FarmBot is calling this their “Model 3 moment” — the new offering is smaller and leaner to appeal to a wider customer base than their well-heeled, CNC machine loving, early adopters. The new FarmBot Express and Express XL models are now shipped 95% pre-assembled to lower the bar on getting up and running.  They cover two sizes of planting bed: 1.2m x 3m or 2.4m x 6m, with an MSRP of $2295/2795 although there is currently an $800 launch discount available.

For us, FarmBot is the success story of an early Hackaday Prize entrant. From a great idea and a functional prototype, the project has successfully made the transition to commercial viability and holds a genuine promise of making the world a better place by helping people grow some of their own produce. Who knows, in five years time it could be your idea that’s reaching commercial viability, we think you should enter the Hackaday Prize too!

16 thoughts on “FarmBot Unveils New CNC Gardening Robot Models

  1. I find the farmbot very expensive. Would it be possible to make it more budget friendly?
    I have thought about making a mobile robot in the style of like a container crane.

    1. Hmm, do you mean have tracks on only one side instead of both sides? I don’t think you would gain anything because everything would have to be much sturdier.

  2. Looks like a total waste of resources compared to a well-thought permaculture garden, but well, if someone has a few thousands of bucks to throw away to grow the same plants that were adopted by agroindustry, it´s adequate.

    1. I agree to the extent that the equipment is idle. I think the hardware in question would be most efficient if it was tending a garden of a size to keep it busy for most of the day. As it is it looks like there could be a lot of idle time, waiting for plants to grow. zzzzzzzz.

    2. It all looks like good promotional photography, nothing is weathered, nothing is rotted or dirty from soil. And all plants looks like just buyed from local farmer shop and putted in soil for good looking photo. There is no result from real all year growing. Just another wet dreams of some hipsters.

  3. Utg. I would be interested in seeing how it does the weeding, though in raided beds weeding is not that big a deal anyway once you get rid of them it is much harder for them to creep in.

    The watering seems silly to me. My beds all have good drainage, I use a small pump dc pump that is powered by a small solar panel and pulls perhaps 15 gallons of water from the pond on a bright day. The excess goes right back in the pond. The pond never has any chemicals in it and has a windmill that aireates it, we have all kinds of fish in it, so that takes care of the plant feeding pretty much, and the nice days and overcast days give a nice variation in water. The plants really seem to thrive on us doing nothing but watching them grow. A common nubie mistake with any kind of agriculture over tending it. Killing things with love. They tend to do better with a large degree of neglect. Sad but true. And the light, um, the sun. It is pretty cool. It goes on a about 4 hours before I get up this time of year, and slowly turns itself off around 9:30PM. I would like to change it to stay on a bit later on the weekends but I can not find an API for it.

    Now if you could come up with a triggered non leather deterrent for birds and critters, from bunnies to deer, that would not keep us up after the sun turns itself off, that would be useful.

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