The idea of growing my own fruits and vegetables is appealing, but the reality of that ever happening is pretty slim. I just don’t have the know-how or the patience to set up and manage a garden properly. But FarmBot, the startup that sells home gardening robot kits, could change all that as the company announced today the launch of its new Express and Express XL robots, and placed them on pre-sale for the month of July.
The FarmBot is a cartesian coordinate robot that sits on top of your raised garden. According to the company, each kit comes 95 percent pre-assembled, and should only take an hour to set up. Once that’s done, FarmBot’s software lets you drag-and-drop to map out where you want to plant your different vegetables and fruits. Then FarmBot will sow the seeds, monitor them through its on-board camera, water them properly, and even spot and remove weeds. As is par for the course these days, all of this activity can be tracked via mobile app on your phone.
The new FarmBot models won’t ship until November, but the company has put them on pre-order sale for the month of July. The Express (1.2 metes by 3 meters) will set you back $1,500 now, with the price jumping to $2,300 after the sale, and the Express XL (2.4 meters by 6 meters) will cost $2,000 during the sale, going up to $2,800 afterwards.
The other cool thing about FarmBot is that it’s completely open source — even its financials. All the CAD drawings, software and documentation is online for you to download. In fact, the entire company is open source and transparent about all of its actions and activities.
So far, FarmBot says that it’s shipped more than 1,000 kits to “early adopters” in more than 65 countries. FWIW, in December of 2018, the company reported that it sold a skosh over 800 of its previous Genesis and Genesis XL kits to bring in $2.5 million in revenue.
With its new Express and Express XL models, the company says it is “ready to bring FarmBot to the masses,” which includes not just residential customers, but small scale farmers and places like universities. And while $1,500 isn’t cheap per se, and the machine won’t be of any use for city dwellers because of its size, if the kits are as easy to set up and run as promised, that price point could get those aspiring — but failing — gardeners the robot green thumb they need.