Meet Growver, the lawn-watering hero your grass has been waiting for. Growver is a robot that attaches to your garden hose. Using its wire sensing technology, Growver intelligently navigates and irrigates your lawn. Water sensors in the robot detect which areas of your yard are dry so Growver can revive them. And with the connected app, you can track how your lawn is doing over time, adjust water levels, and even control Growver remotely.
Every other lawn watering device irrigates by spraying water. But sprinkling water through the air is a fundamentally inefficient way to water plants.
And there are other issues too, in additional to leaks, over-spray and evaporation, our data shows a 6:1 variation in water coverage.
The only way to distribute water efficiently and evenly is to place it directly where it’s needed. That’s what Growver does – by driving back and forth on the lawn and watering a 20-inch (500mm) wide path. First Growver’s sensors guide it along the boundary wire. After watering the perimeter, Growver fills in the entire area using patent-pending sensor technology to follow the wet-dry transition. Measurements from grass moisture sensors and water-flow data let Growver intelligently adjust watering depth. Growver stops automatically when the entire area is watered.
Here’s a complete video of a recent test run. Growver takes about 18 minutes to water the 240 sq-ft area.
The entire process completes without wasting a drop of water on the pavement. Irregular areas like this are a real problem for sprinklers!
There are 3 ways to use Growver:
- Fill Mode is the normal operating mode. Growver irrigates along and then inside an area defined by the perimeter wire.
- Outline Mode has Growver following the wire until a very sharp (90 degree or less) bend which marks the end of the irrigation run. This mode is useful for long, narrow areas.
- Remote Mode allows manual Growver operation from a mobile device via Bluetooth. Just sit back and drive Growver around while enjoying a your favorite cold drink. No perimeter wire is required. You can even lay out a wet perimeter using remote control, then let Growver automatically fill it in.
I'm Jon Guy, inventor of Growver and resident of Austin Texas. My experience building robots started in high-school where, for 3 years in a row, I entered robots in the science fair. Now after 20 years developing hardware and software for start-ups and large corporations, I am back in the robot business. It's an exciting time because recent technology advances now enable us to build the robots we used to dream of. As a homeowner it didn't take me long to figure out that my lawn sprinkler system wasted a lot of water, was costly to maintain, and basically did a poor job of keeping my grass alive. After years of looking at alternatives, it became clear that effective irrigation requires carrying water and placing it exactly where it's needed. Guided by this goal Growver development started in May 2014.
Building an entirely new type of product requires a lot of prototypes and what-if testing. The prototype photos tell some that story. Growver is being developed in both hose-attached and hose-less designs. Both approaches work and the hose-attached design is now ready for field testing and production.
Growver has already generated a lot of attention. The local news channel has run two stories including Growver and we were also seen nationally on CNBC’s Make Me A Millionaire Inventor Season 1 Episode 4.
Until this point I’ve been self-funding Growver. Now, with your support, Growver will move quickly from an invention to your lawn!
Growver is running in yards using the sensors and algorithms we've spent the last 2 years developing.
The Growver mobile app is running on Android and will be released on iOS and Windows phone platforms before we ship. Note too, that all main functions can be started simply by pressing a button on Growver - no mobile device needed!
Today Growver uses the fourth revision of the control board set.
Future hardware changes will be minor refinements to the current design. Major items on our to-do list are:
- Thoroughly field test Growver and make any necessary software changes.
- The mobile app we’re using today will get an all-new and improved user interface.
- Change the touch-sensitive keypad to mechanical switches.
- Add support for firmware updates using Bluetooth.
- Complete FCC testing.
Growver's Bluetooth radio lets us stream thousands of data points to a computer for analysis. Other measurements get collected the hard way - by collecting water over a grid in the lawn. The following charts show results conventional in-ground sprinklers (20 mm variation) and for Growver (<5 mm variation).
Q: I have a robot lawnmower. Can I use the mower's existing perimeter wire?
A: The existing wire can be used if: 1) the distance of the wire to the actual boundary is acceptable (about 10 -in), 2) The Growver Wire Drive Module is used, and 3) The layout ensures the hose will not get stuck.
Q: Can Growver navigate around obstacles?
A: Growver can detect if he gets stuck and will pause irrigation if that happens. However the lawn area should be clear of obstacles such as toys and large branches. Permanent obstacles should be outside of the perimeter wire loop.
Q: Why is a perimeter wire necessary? Why not use GPS?
A: While GPS related technologies continue to improve, there are no appropriately priced systems that can consistently provide the sub-1-inch accuracy needed for lawn robots. Attempts to make a lawn mowing robot without a boundary wire have been largely unsuccessful. Perimeter wires provide a reliable, well-defined boundary to keep robots on-task and out of trouble!
Risks and challenges
With Growver we’re doing something that’s never been done before. In 2 years we’ve solved a lot of problems but there’s inherent risk in revolutionary product development. That said, we have considerable product design experience and will do our absolute best to deliver Growver robots on-time and to-specification.
We expect to make two more circuit board revisions before production. The next revision will address minor issues we’ve found so far with prototype testing (such as changing from capacitive touch switches to mechanical switches). A final revision will address any manufacturability and EMC (“FCC” testing) issues. There’s always some potential for changes to pass EMC tests but the overall risk manageable since the Bluetooth radio is a pre-certified module and the perimeter wire operates at low frequency and low power.
Growver today has over 20000 lines of code. We expect to add about 5000 additional lines of code as testing continues and we finalize mobile app communication. The Growver firmware will be field upgradable from a smart-phone – so, worst-case, we can provide software updates to address any field issues.
We’re testing Growver over a range of conditions, but there a lot of terrain, turf, layout, water-supply and environmental variations so specification changes are possible as we continue testing and move into production.
We have long-term engagements with our suppliers and manufacturers and Growver has already been through DFM (design for manufacturability) review. Component availability is always a risk that needs to be managed carefully, so we’ll be scheduling orders will all our suppliers as soon as we conclude Kickstarter funding.
- (30 days)