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Meet Tertill: The New Weed-Killing Robotic Gardener

Weatherproof and self-charging, Tertill lives in your vegetable or flower garden and takes care of the weeding.

Let’s be honest: while planting your garden can be fun, weeding it usually isn’t. Not unless you enjoy crouching down for long stretches, anyway. You might not have to endure the drudgery for too much longer, though.

With Tertill, gardeners can now enjoy weed-free vegetable and flower gardens, without the monotony and frustration of weeding. Organic gardeners can breathe easy and enjoy a weed-free, chemical-free garden all season long.

Created by roboticist Joe Jones – inventor of the Roomba – Franklin Robotics’ Tertill is designed to live in your garden and take care of the weeding, come rain or shine.

The machine automatically roams the soil, using sensors to identify small plants (you use collars to protect young crops) and chop them down. It’s solar-powered, so you don’t have to dock it — you can even leave it out in the rain.

In addition to pairing with your phone through Bluetooth, the machine has a USB port to charge during particularly gloomy weeks.

The design does require some careful planning to work properly. You need to space your crops loosely so that the robot can kill weeds in between, and you’ll want to avoid any steep inclines so Tertill doesn’t stuck. There will have to be some kind of basic barrier to prevent the vehicle from wandering away, too. You may also have to rethink how you kill weeds. While you’re probably used to pulling weeds out by the roots, Franklin is counting on its bot repeatedly cutting down weeds until they wither and die.

“The big problem with weeding is, how do you tell the difference between a weed and a plant that you want to keep?” Jones said in an interview. “With a garden, you can recognize the difference between weeds and crops based on size. So anything that’s short enough to go under the robot is considered a weed, and anything taller is considered a plant.” What about short plants that you don’t want Tertill to whack? The solution there is a Tertill-resistant collar you can put around new plants until they’ve grown tall.

There’s a chance you’ll need to double-check Tertill’s work (it might not catch weeds very close to your crops), but the time you save could be better spent on the rest of your gardening… or just relaxing on the back porch. And it’s even a bit eco-friendly, since it reduces the pressure to use herbicides.

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