Straw, cardboard, fabric, a full bottle of Roundup: Doesn’t matter what goes down in the garden, weeds will still pop up. That’s, unfortunately, how gardens work. And while, sure, you could use that time plucking ragwort to harness your inner chi/escape your crying baby, wouldn’t it be nicer if somebody just did the weeding for you? The mad-cat roboticist who invented the floor-patrolling Roomba vacuum thinks so. And to prove it, he’s bringing the same concept to the garden with Tertill: a solar-powered weeding robot.
Similar to lawn-mowing/leaf-raking/snow-shoveling bots Kobi and Miimo, Tertill (pronounced turtle,) is a weatherproof weed sentry from Franklin Robotics that patrols and protects your tomatoes and romaine lettuce. It lives in the garden, so you can’t forget to bring it in/out, and automatically goes to work when the battery is charged. It uses two cutting methods: first, a small spinning nylon wire underneath works like a weed whacker; second, the angled camber wheels grind up smaller weeds as they break the surface. Obviously, neither technique actually pulls the weed, but that’s alright. Since it’s cutting daily, the robot leaves weeds small enough to dry up quickly to reconstitute the soil. Even better, no pesticides are required.
But wait, how does it know what’s a weed, you ask? Simple, it can detect height: any plant shorter than one inch gets snipped, while anything taller gets stayed. Seedlings and smaller plants need to be protected by an adjustable collar, while the entire garden requires a raised border ⏤ wood, wire, anything really ⏤ to keep the weed slicing sentry from wandering away and weeding the neighbor’s yard.
Of course, Tertill syncs to a smartphone app via Bluetooth so you can keep tabs on its work ethic and/or the condition of your garden. The only downside of this robot gardener is that it won’t be ready until next spring. Which means you’re stuck harnessing your chi for another couple of months.