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Iron Ox launches greenhouse robot

by Pieter Werner

Iron Ox, a farming company focused on plant science, robotics and artificial intelligence, has announced its second greenhouse robot, Phil. This is an addition to the Iron Ox ecosystem that optimizes plant yield, expands growth cycles and maximizes crop quality. Its sensor technology identifies trends in each module’s water and nutrient mix, measuring nutrient content and pH levels with speed and precision.

Phil is equipped with Ultraviolet LEDs for quick and efficient sanitizing without producing waste. The result is delicious, nutritious, locally sourced fruits and vegetables with substantially lower environmental impacts.

Phil is integrated into the Iron Ox greenhouse system, with all the data he collects going into the company’s robust agricultural dataset. This data informs the plant scientist’s optimization strategies. For example, when Grover brings a module in for a checkup, the amount of water and nutrient content may vary based on different conditions, and the team may see a trend that provides valuable information on water or nutrient usage for each plant varietal.

Volume and nutrient

Phil fills each 6-by-6-foot plant module in under two minutes. Grover, an autonomous mobile robot, transports plant modules and docks with Phil, who, using his advanced sensors, hygienically fills it precisely to the required volume and nutrient mix. The module is now ready for Grover to retrieve it and deliver it to its next destination. Phil enables high throughput of modules, making the interaction between Grover and Phil akin to a Formula 1 pitstop. This contactless procedure eliminates the need to re-sanitize Phil after each module.

In addition, Grover brings Phil modules for checkups throughout each plant module’s growth cycle. Phil first takes a small sample of the water and nutrient mix. That sample goes into a reservoir equipped with sensors to measure the nutrient content and pH of the module. Iron Ox’s plant science team uses these data to understand how the plants are consuming water, and the nutrients and at what rate.

Phil then senses the water level and adjusts it to match its target settings. Another sample is taken for validation. When Phil is done with his work, Grover takes the plant module back to its respective place in the greenhouse.

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