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Robot Grows Plants as Well as Humans, but Uses Less Water

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The AlphaGarden robotic gardener is a cut above humans when it comes to water use.

AlphaGarden did encounter some problems during the growing cycles and required human intervention for 14 irrigation and 24 pruning malfunctions.

Credit: Simeon Oluwafunmilore Adebola et al

Simeon Adebola at the University of California, Berkeley, and colleagues developed a robot gardener that can grow plants as capably as humans while saving more water.

The researchers tested six seasoned horticulturalists against an automated plot called AlphaGarden in two 60-day competitions.

AlphaGarden contained pairs of eight common edible vegetables, and formulated optimal growth strategies using a garden model and robotic pruning and watering controls.

Data from moisture sensors in the soil and a camera helped the algorithm schedule watering.

Adebola said AlphaGarden exhibited comparable performance to the horticulturalists, but used 37% and 44% less water in the two respective growth cycles.

From New Scientist
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