Is this the future of gardening? New robot makes short work of trimming and pruning

Trimbot, a new gardening robot developed by the University of Edinburgh, employs sophisticated technology and 3D computer vision to automate tasks such as bush-trimming and rose-pruning.

A new robot looks set to take the hard toil out of gardening. Created by the University of Edinburgh, together with five other European institutions and white-good company Bosch, with funding from the European Union, Trimbot is cutting edge in every sense of the words — it’s a ground-breaking innovation that promises to prune roses and trim overgrown bushes.

Gardening robot Trimbot prunes a rose

The battery-operated device was made by installing robotics technology on an automated Bosch lawnmower. Pre-programmed with a rough outline of the garden it will work in, the gardening bot is equipped with five stereo cameras and 3D computer vision that allow it to see in a similar way to us and move around seamlessly on different terrains.

The cameras also help it capture information about the garden, with a series of algorithms enabling it to determine when and what to trim by comparing actual plants to the ideal shape they should have. A robotic arm and precision cutting tools then ensure every rose and topiary are clipped to perfection.

Gardening robot Trimbot gets ready to clip roses in the garden

‘Getting the robot to work reliably in a real garden was a major feat of engineering,’ says project leader Professor Bob Fisher of the University of Edinburgh’s School of Informatics.

‘The eight-partner teams developed new robotics and 3D computer vision technology to enable it to work outdoors in changing lighting and environmental conditions.’

Trimbot approaches a topiary

The development team believe Trimbot will be especially useful to maintain communal green spaces, help elderly or disabled people look after their gardens, and support farmers in some of their tasks.