Ultrasonic distance sensor?

Is that an ultrasonic distance sensor in the video on Farmbot’s homepage?


If so, that would be really useful. How far are we from commercialisation?

1 Like

Sure looks like it !
Can’t speak for FarmBot Inc. but the video says ( around 2:21 ) “and New additions are in Development” :wink:

What major benefit would a ( vertical ) UTM-mounted distance sensor serve in your case ?


I think that we all agree that it’s really hard to maintain a perfectly flat soil surface. My experience is that an uneven surface impacts seeding and weeding quite significantly.

It would make a lot of sense to have a sensor to analyse the shape of the soil surface and vary Z travels accordingly.

We agree. A simple first step to this will be to add a “soil height” feature to the app and integrate with the current MOVE block. After that, we would like to add some sort of soil mapping feature that does a higher resolution scan of soil height using multiple points (similar to the way a surveyor might map the soil of a construction site).

As you can see in the video, we are actively prototyping these solutions. I can’t say too much about timelines at this point unfortunately.


Thanks Rick @RickCarlino,

This is great news and I look forward to testing this new tool when it comes out.

The other development which I can’t wait for is a quieter Farmbot :wink:


This is awesome! Can’t wait for this tool.


hmmn i can understand the fascination of distancing and 3d-models of your own garden but I think the farmbot team should contact these guys and release the complete robot arm :slight_smile:

1 Like

That’s a great idea. I spend a lot of time levelling the soil prior to seeding and once this system is fully developed it should fully automate planting with no need to level at all!

1 Like

Is anyone familiar with the AR Sandbox? https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=bA4uvkAStPc
It uses an infrared sensor to map out surface contours and then project the elevation map back onto the surface. Could this be a useful tool in the effort to work with uneven grow mediums?

Also, is perhaps a simple solution to devise a grading tool that mounts to the magnetic, um, up and down thingy that will rake, flatten, smooth, roll, plug, row, or otherwise contour the soil as desired?


@MakeItGrow Work is under way for a computer vision based distance solution. It is still in the early phases and we can’t offer a release timeline (yet).

As for the idea of grading the soil, I have run experiments using a rotary tool prototype. The clay soil in my region made it almost possible, but the lateral motion led to accidental tool dismounting and stalls at an unacceptable rate, even when taking very small passes at a slow rate of speed. More prototyping is required to find a consistent solution.

We will have more news to share about this in the coming months.


Another idea which went through my mind was the mesh bed levelling my Prusa printer uses. You can visualise that through Octoprint. While visualising is not the most important thing I still link to the Octoprint Plugin because you can see the according G-Code command and the response: https://plugins.octoprint.org/plugins/bedlevelvisualizer/

On soil it can’t be made by touching something. But it might be possible with small but distance fixed (switches at i.e. 50mm distance) optical or ultrasonic sensor. If you use a mesh with 100mm squares you’ll have about 400 points which I assume would be fine. It is not important to be as precise as a 3D printer. Knowing the level with an accuracy of +/-3mm should be fine from my assumption.

The sequence would be like:
1: go to X=100, Y=100 and lower Z until sensor switches => store Z value
2: go to X=100, Y=200 and lower Z until sensor switches => store Z value
3: go to X=100, Y=300 and lower Z until sensor switches => store Z value

Sure that will take some time but only has to be done once before the planting season when the bed is empty.

Disclaimer: The mentioned values are only assumptions without any practical experience. I also don’t know if that is possible with the FB Express. Just wanted to share what went through my mind. :sunglasses: