University of Hawaii at Manoa students designed a hydroponic growing system called Box Farm.
They envision that it may be an important tool for space travel someday.
The Box Farm is about to be tested at the NASA-funded Inflatable Lunar-Mars Habitat at the University of North Dakota from May 16 to 24.
To cut down on the time researchers spend tending to plants in space, habitat administrators say participants have been spending an average of more than two hours a day caring for plants.
Box Farm can also help to advance autonomous greenhouses for food sustainability on Earth.
The students’ research focused on robotics, image processing, sensor systems, botany, interplanetary communication and autonomy.
They also designed and printed custom planters, etc. in 3-D for the Box Farm system.
The robotic plant growing module can be scaled up to take care of hundreds of plants, essentially automating the entire growing process.
The Box Farm team won first place at the UH Manoa College of Engineering Francis J. Rhodes Montgomery innovation competition in April.