“Weeding sucks, you should make a robot do it.”
That’s part of the tagline that plays at the end of the Kickstarter funding video for Tertill, a new automated weeding robot.
It’s blunt, but effective. Weeding does suck, and it would be a lot easier to just not do it.
The sales pitch is almost identical to the Roomba robotic vacuum’s main selling point — and the similarity isn’t a coincidence. Joe Jones, the first employee at iRobot and co-inventor of the Roomba, is also the inventor of Tertill.
The Tertill chugs through your garden on specially crafted wheels that twist and pull weeds in their early stages or cuts it with a thread situated underneath its circular body.
Through “several sensors and clever programming,” it’s able to sense larger plants by brushing against them — though it’s unclear how well this function would work in real life — and for smaller plants, gardeners can protect them with metal ‘plant collars’ provided by the fledgling company.
Users have to make sure their garden is well-defined by a fence or ledge of some sort, however, or else Tertill may wander away and go on a grass-killing rampage.
The robot is accompanied by a Bluetooth-enabled smartphone application, and features a solar charging panel that allows it to continuously roam the garden each day without needing to take a break for recharging.
The Tertill is priced at $249 USD (about $329 CAD).
Anyone with a garden knows that weeds are infuriating and grow at light-speed. As soon as one’s been removed, another takes its place. With Tertill, you don’t have to fight against endless affront of unwanted greenery. Sure it doesn’t pull anything up by the root, but it doesn’t need to, since it’s never not working.
While I don’t currently have a garden — this would be an ideal way to keep one looking impeccable with really minimal time and financial output (in comparison to hiring a gardener or helper for upkeep).
If you value time spent in your garden weeding as therapeutic, this isn’t the robot for you — but considering the popularity of the Roomba, I’m betting Tertill and machines have a future.
Note: This post is part of an ongoing series titled Sticky or Not in which Senior Reporter Rose Behar analyzes new and often bizarre gadgets, rating them sticky (good) or not (bad).
Update 18/06/17: A previous version of this article stated the verdict was “not sticky” when in fact the verdict was “sticky.” The article has been updated accordingly.