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Using a little tech in mowing

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  • Using a little tech in mowing

    Hi,

    We are a tiny startup that is working on robotic mowers and have moved into starting a lawn service business to try to learn how the business works. Sort of like, "in the trenches".

    I have a background in tech side and learning about turf management and the business of mowing in general. Def has been a lot to learn.

  • #2
    Welcome to our forum!

    Can you tell us a little how that all works? Do you use your robotic mowers to mow the properties? What kind of advantage do you feel?
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    • #3
      Sure thing, last mowing season I worked on putting together an autonomous robotic mower using my ZTR. In its current stage it plays back the mowing path of a human operator and can use preprogrammed paths using satellite imagery (wouldn't recommend, too many unknowns). Tail end of last mowing season I was mowing my in-laws property (2+ acres) while eating a sandwich under a sun canopy . It mows down to 2 inches accuracy so the stripes were straight as an arrow. Shame the property didn't have cool weather grasses so they would show better.

      This is the first season moving from prototype to production. My goal this year is to iron out any unforeseen challenges and polish current design. I still have to teach it three point turns for perfect, no turf burns. My end goal is to allow me to reduce the time per property while still being a one man operation.

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      • #4
        That sounds really cool! Do you have any videos of it working that you can show us? Something like this would really play well with a vlog of your experimentations.
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        • #5
          Yup, here is a video of the last cut I got Nov 2016 before it got too cold to be outside. https://youtu.be/0E3I6uQX4M0 Few things to keep in mind is this is version 1 and this spring we will be testing our version 2 which has all types of better things, including safety systems!

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          • #6
            That is really cool. It would be really neat to see how well it could do some striping patterns in lawns too.



            Have you also considered some kind of way to do line trimming as well?
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            • #7
              Yup, I'm working on overlaying trajectory data over a lawn, via GIS, that allows laying out any stripping pattern you want while keeping constraints in place (speed over rough area, hidden areas you wouldn't want a mower to go over etc). If I find a big cool grass area will try writing my name or something like that

              As far as the trimmer, you read my mind . A big feature of the v2 is handling under trees and next to building with tight tolerances, less than an inch. Once that is ironed out I can apply this to the trimmer for tree, fences, and even doing edging.

              I didn't mean for this to turn into a show case, but more as a I'm starting a lawn service business and learning the ropes, such as customer management, tips on efficiency, hell even pricing accordingly which has "fun" calculating hourly rate and competitive pricing. Who can forget advertising!!!

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              • #8
                When you are mowing close to buildings, vehicles, trees, or whatever, will you have some kind of radar or camera sensors that the mower can use to keep track of how close it is? Have you looked into what kind of sensors are available for something like that? I bet there is a lot now with the advent of autonomous driving vehicles.
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                • #9
                  Yup, the one in the video is v1 which was more of a proof of concept and has basic sensors to perform cuts. The v2 has the additional sensors, point depth, and laser. It will be much more aware of what is going around it than what is in the video.

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                  • #10
                    That is fascinating. So ultimately will the home owner be the customer for such a product or would this be geared to the contractor?
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                    • #11
                      At the moment, if we decide to sell the tech, it will be toward a contractor. These sensors are just to expensive for a home owner.

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                      • #12
                        You also have to wonder if such technical know how to get the mowers to work like that could give you a competitive advantage to allow you to create the mowing business into a nationwide franchise? Potentially a one man operator to get a lot more work done.
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                        • #13
                          Yup, testing this year will see if that is achievable. It is amazing how adaptive a human person is. Stuff like driving in a straight line is easy for us, but even with all the tech advances is still non trivial.

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                          • #14
                            Keep us posted on your experimentations. I am sure a lot of the other forum members would love to read and see your video updates as you go.
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                            • #15
                              Hi, Everyone. I am new to this forum. Let me share few topics regarding little tech in mowing..
                              I am experimenting with a Honda to try and get it to mow via remote control.

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