About this project
Meet Tertill, the solar powered weeding robot for your garden
Tertill is a solar-powered and weatherproof robot that weeds your garden every day.
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.
How does it work?
Tertill lives in your garden and prevents weeds from becoming established. Using unique design elements and a variety of sensors, Tertill patrols the garden daily, avoiding plants and obstacles while looking for weeds to eliminate.
How does it know what's a weed and what's a plant?
Tertill has a very simple method: weeds are short, plants are tall. A plant tall enough to touch the front of Tertill's shell activates a sensor that makes the robot turn away. A plant short enough to pass under Tertill’s shell, though, activates a different sensor that turns on the weed cutter.
Because Tertill's approach is height-based, put one of the provided plant collars around short plants until they are tall enough for Tertill to recognize. When Tertill approaches the collar, it will recognize it and turn away.
How does it get rid of weeds? Won't they come back?
Tertill whacks weeds using a spinning string trimmer, which cuts the weed off near the ground. Because Tertill lives in your garden and goes looking for weeds every day, weeds are always small when the robot finds them.
A whacked weed may sprout again, but sprouting takes energy stored in the seed or root. By coming back every day, Tertill never lets a weed develop the leaves it needs to replenish this energy, so eventually the weed gives up and dies.
How often do I need to charge Tertill?
Tertill gets its power from the sun. When there is sunlight—even on cloudy days—Tertill’s solar cell converts the light into electricity. The robot stores the energy in a battery. You don’t need to charge or replace Tertill’s battery. Tertill uses its stored power smartly—during cloudy stretches, when less power is available, it patrols for weeds less often. Tertill is more aggressive during periods with more sun. Fortunately, weeds grow more slowly when they have less light.
Do I need more than one?
Most gardeners will need only one robot. If you have an unusually large garden (good for you!) you might get better performance with more than one robot. (The area of a typical garden in the US is about 100 square feet.)
Will Tertill get stuck?
Tertill uses four-wheel-drive. This helps Tertill move through soft soil, sand, and mulch, and also helps Tertill climb slopes. Its distinctive diagonal wheels make Tertill more stable on slopes and help it get past certain terrain challenges.
Tertill relies on several sensors and clever programming to keep out of trouble. To detect objects like the garden fence and big plants, Tertill uses sensors similar to those found in many smart phones—the lightest touch is all it takes. To detect steep slopes, Tertill uses the same sort of sensor that tells your cell phone which way is up. Tertill can also sense if a motor stops turning—perhaps jammed by a rock—so it can protect itself from damage.
How does Tertill know where the edge of my garden is?
There needs to be at least a short barrier around your garden to keep Tertill from wandering away. The barrier might be a fence, edging that’s two inches or taller, or the wooden border of a raised bed.
Tertill has a simple, reliable strategy to ensure that it covers the garden. It uses a combination of bouncing away from, and sometimes following, obstacles and plants. This is the same strategy employed by some models of Roomba and other robotic vacuums.
Advantages of a Weeding Robot
Using a robot to weed your garden has some important advantages.
No herbicides: Gardeners with persistent weed problems sometimes resort to chemical herbicides to protect their crops. But by patiently chopping weeds when they are small, Tertill keeps weeds well controlled using only mechanical means. The expense, the hassle, the danger to children and pets, and the worries associated with chemical herbicides are eliminated. (Have you ever actually read what you're supposed to do with herbicides? There's a lot to it.)
Diligence: Gardeners often forget to weed but weeds never forget to grow. At one time or another most of us have been dismayed to find a once pristine garden “suddenly” choked with weeds. We all intend to give our gardens regular attention but sometimes life gets in the way. Not so for Tertill. Tertill’s only purpose is weeding, so it never forgets, never gets distracted, and never goes on vacation.
Productivity: All the fertilizer, all the water, and all the sunlight that reaches your garden should go to growing healthy, productive crops. But weeds use these resources, too, depriving them of the light and food they need to thrive. By keeping the weeds from establishing themselves, Tertill makes sure that your plants (the good ones!) get all the resources they can.
Gardening limitations: Gardening offers great benefit to the gardener. It gives us time outdoors surrounded by growing plants, it’s good exercise, it rewards us with delicious, fresh food, and it is a source of pride and accomplishment. But older folks or anyone with a mobility challenge may find that their physical limitations force them to cut back on gardening. Tertill can help. Because weeding is often the most arduous gardening job, assigning that task to a robot can help the gardener keep doing what they love.
Robotic Awesomeness: People have been trying to get weeds out of their garden for a long time: they have tried plastic groundcloth, homemade herbicides, boiling water, and countless other approaches. But all of these remedies lack a certain robotic awesomeness that Tertill brings to the situation.
Tertill in the News
Why we need your help
We have come a long way since the Lego and Wiffle ball prototype that first ran in Joe's garden. After building and testing 6 generations of prototypes, we are nearly ready to set up manufacturing to get Tertill delivered as soon as possible.
We have come to Kickstarter so that we can place a large enough order to produce the robots cost-effectively. In return, you will be one of the first to receive a weeding robot for your garden.
Our team is experienced in designing, building, and marketing consumer products, and has a deep experience in robots, particularly in AgTech or agriculture technology.
We’d like to say thanks to our followers who have helped shape Tertill, and to our friends and families that have supported us. Your ideas, feedback, and support have allowed us to make this idea real, and we’re excited to be on this journey.
If you can, please help us spread the word. Every extra person who knows about Tertill really helps.
This project is promoted by Jellop, a direct response online advertising agency specializing in Kickstarter campaigns on Facebook Ads and Google AdWords.
Risks and challenges
We can’t wait to bring Tertill to market. We have our designs in hand, manufacturers lined up, and what we need now is your contribution to start manufacturing and fund our first production run.
We’ve been down this road before, and know that there will inevitably be unforeseen challenges along the way that will add unexpected delays and complication. We have consulted and partnered with experts in manufacturing products to supplement our experience, seeking to gain insight from those who have gone down this road before ourselves. We have budgeted time for the unexpected, and while we will do our best, it’s possible we will not be able to meet our targets.
Regardless, please be assured that we’re as excited as you to get Tertill into your garden.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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