We’re pleased to report that a so-called Roomba for weeds, Franklin Robotics’ Tertill, won the TC Sessions: Robotics pitch-off. Because if there’s a task that should be relegated to a robot, it’s weeding a garden.
For winning the pitch-off, Franklin Robotics was awarded an exhibit table in Disrupt SF’s Startup Alley.
“We actually tried to get away from the circular shape for a while,” CEO Rory MacKean told TechCrunch ahead of the pitch-off appearance at TC Sessions: Robotics. “We want something that’s robust and rugged, with a rectangular shape. We wanted to make it look like a tractor: four-wheel drive, corners. But then the corners don’t make sense. It would get itself into a situation where it was hard to back out without damaging anything. You can’t turn in place without damaging plants.”
The circular shape, along with built-in sensors, help the robot avoid contact with useful plants taller than an inch — the company is also shipping the robot with small metal guards to keep it from bumping into younger plants. The Tertill is designed to spend its entire existence outside, drawing power through the large solar panel on its back to fuel the two or so hours a day that it does its routine garden maintenance.
The Tertill competed against three other projects for the spot at Disrupt SF. We thank all the participants of the event including the panel of judges that included Jeremy Conrad of Lemnos, Helen Greiner of CyPhyWorks, Daniel Theobald of Vecna and Melonee Wise of Fetch Robotics.