A note to the judges regarding the judging criteria of the semifinals round :)
FarmBot is completely Open-Source. We document everything we do on our own dedicated mediawiki installation at wiki.farmbot.it, share and welcome feedback on our social media profiles, and all of our code lives openly on GitHub. We have chosen permissive licenses so that anyone can use what we create in any way they want.
We like to think that FarmBot is a clever mashup of existing technologies coupled with an innovative business and development model. We're essentially creating a CNC machine with special tooling and software for growing plants. We use all the same equipment as the DIY 3D printers and are very inspired by the RepRap project. Stepper motors, aluminum extrusions, Arduinos, RAMPS, and the Raspberry Pi are at the core of FarmBot. The development model is simple: share everything, get people excited, invite them to contribute, and eventually sell software as a service and hardware kits for the less technically inclined.
FarmBot is by nature a connected device. Much of what makes it so unique is the software up in the cloud communicating with the device, sending it the most updated information to make the growing data-driven and responsive to changing conditions. We are building:
- A web application similar to "Farmville" so the user can design their farm or garden
- A decision support system to make optimized decisions based on soil data, weather forecasts, and plant needs
- An open database (OpenFarm) for growing plants to ensure FarmBot knows what it is doing and has the most updated information available
Regarding reproduce-ability, we let our Mission Statement do the talking. The FarmBot Project exists to:
Grow a community that produces free and open-source hardware plans, software, data, and documentation enabling everyone to build and operate a farming machine.
We're excited to reach a point where many innovators, entrepreneurs, designers, and engineers are our community that loves to develop, hack, and modify what FarmBot can do, bring the technology to new applications. One idea already presented is to have an automated greenhouse on other planets. FarmBot would not only grow the plants, but moderate and control the environment as well!
Though what we have today isn't worth reproducing, we are working hard to add features and functions so that when someone does produce a FarmBot, it will be a useful device in their life.
To get there, FarmBot requires a multifaceted engineering team. The hardware itself has many design constraints: it must withstand being outdoors, it must be easily manufactured at home or in a MakerSpace, it must be modular and extensible, and it incorporates unique parts (such as the universal tool mount) that have been designed and tested and redesigned many times over. The software is also an engineering innovation: taking a blend of different data sources such as the plant growing data, weather reports and forecasts, user preferences, soil data, and the user's design choices to create an optimized schedule of operations for the bot to execute.
At the moment, there is not a very intuitive interface, but these things take time to build. We have a plan (as outlined in the whitepaper) and a team, and the beginnings of our web application. You can help us move forward to build "Farmville in real life"! Contact Rory Aronson at email@example.com.
Regarding manufacturability, this is our primary focus on the hardware development side. How might we design parts that can be produced at home with nothing more than a drill? How can we simplify assembly to use 3 tools or less to build an entire bot? These are questions we keep in mind every day and we hope our hardware designs reflect that.
We're currently working on FarmBot Genesis, a small scale FarmBot primarily constructed from V-Slot aluminum extrusions and aluminum plates and brackets. Genesis is driven by NEMA 17 stepper motors, an Arduino Mega with...Read more »