This $300 Robot Can Weed Your Garden
Tertill is a $300 pie-size, waterproof, solar-powered robot designed to roam your garden throughout the growing season, shredding weeds with a miniature weed whacker.
- Joe Jones and Rory MacKean
- Ages: 64 and 39
- Chief technology officer and chief executive officer of four-employee Franklin Robotics LLC in Billerica, Mass.
A gardener places protective wickets around the seedlings he or she wants to grow.
When Tertill’s shell touches a plant, sensors determine if it’s taller than an inch, telling the robot to steer clear. As Tertill runs over smaller plants, sensors underneath activate a string trimmer.
Jones, co-inventor of the Roomba, and MacKean, a mechanical engineer, met in 2010 while working at agricultural robot maker Harvest Automation Inc. They left in 2015 to start Franklin and develop Tertill.
The team has raised about $450,000, mostly from crowdfunding, and is seeking additional investors.
Jones and MacKean are focused on the home market for now, but they envision expanding into landscaping and farming with larger robots.
Other, pricier robotic mowers cut down every plant within a preset path, making them unsuitable for gardens.
Having completed working prototypes, Franklin plans to ship pre-orders in May and new orders later in 2018. John Santagate, research director at analyst IDC, says Tertill’s utility and low price make it promising.