Australian startup GardenSpace has developed a robotic garden assistant that it claims can ensure plants are always optimally watered, monitors their health and can even scare off crop-eating pests.

The Solar-powered GardenSpace robot is a static device equipped with camera, WiFi connectivity and a water outlet. It scans the surrounding soil, analyses the information gathered from the camera and relays this to the homeowner and waters when it decides this is necessary.

For pest protection: its camera detects the presence of the invading critter … and spays it with water!

The company says a single GardenSpace unit can monitor and water an area of 100 square feet (9.3 square metres). It says this area is sufficient to product food crops worth more than $700 per year.

The startup is backed by hardware accelerator HAX and venture capital firm SOSV. GardenSpace’s lead software engineer, Luke Worth, who gave a presentation on the product at this week’s Tech23 event in Sydney, said the company would launch on Kickstarter on 17 October.

“You will be able to buy GardenSpace for $US199, and there will be a subscription fee for consumable that will come to maybe $US40 per month. And we are talking to people like Bunnings [to sell the product],” said Worth, adding that deliveries were expected to start early in 2018.

Worth said one in two households in Australia and New Zealand grew their own vegetables to some extent. “The food tastes better, you know exactly what has gone into it and you develop a connection with what you are putting into your mouth,” he said.

“We are trying to reduce the major problems people have with their own vegetable growing so they can produce more from their gardens and eat better food.

“The three major problems we have identified are that people have no idea what is going on in their garden and when things start going wrong they don’t know what to do about it.

“Number two is that people will go away for a week or they will forget to water and the garden starts dying. Number three is critters coming and eating the food.

“We have produced what we think is an elegant solution to all these problems in one affordable package. All you do is place it in or near the vegetable patch, connect the watering hose and switch it on and follow the initial set up procedure on your phone.

“From then on it uses a weather station, a multi-function camera and a thermal sensor mounted inside the rotating head to track the growth and health of each plant in the garden.

“Using the data we collect from the sensors we provide the user with feedback including notifying them when it time to put fertiliser on the soil, when it is time to put insect repellent on the leaves and when it is time to harvest the plant.”

He claimed that performance of the product would improve over time as GardenSpace incorporates information gained from its installed base. “The more people use our product and for the longer they use it the smarter it gets as we learn the best way to grow every vegetable.”