Roomba Inventor Joe Jones on His New Weed-Killing Robot

Evan Ackerman for IEEE Spectrum:  iRobot’s Roomba robotic vacuum is, arguably, the most successful robot ever made. Some 15 million of them are cleaning floors all over the planet, and they’re doing so reliably and affordably and autonomously enough that people keep on buying them, which is something no other consumer robot has ever been able to replicate.

Leading the small team that designed the Roomba was Joe Jones. What started out as his personal side project at MIT’s Artificial Intelligence Lab in 1988 became a commercial product at iRobot in 2002, and while iRobot is still doing its best to make the Roomba better than ever, Jones left to found his own agricultural robotics company, Harvest Automation, in 2006.

Now Jones has started his second robotics company, Franklin Robotics, which is funding its latest project through Kickstarter: Tertill is a solar-powered, weed-destroying, fully autonomous and completely self-contained robot designed for your garden. Put it out there, forget about it (mostly), and it will brutally exterminate any weeds that it can find, as long as they’re short. 

The genius thing about Tertill is that it’s self-sufficient. It has one button, you push that button, and then forget about the robot while it weeds your garden every day, forever. You can talk to it via Bluetooth and get updates and statistics and whatnot, but that’s optional. With a waterproof design and batteries charged by the sun, you really can just leave the robot alone and be confident that your garden will be weed free.  Full Article:

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