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Robot mower

Discussion in 'Lawn Mowing' started by richard mcmurtry, Nov 16, 2005.

  1. richard mcmurtry

    richard mcmurtry LawnSite Member
    from bristol
    Messages: 2

    Hello all,

    I'm always looking to reduce costs in contracting and will consider most things. Has anyone seen the Self Guided Systems robot mower designed for the contracting market? The savings in the marketing material is a little over the top but they are obvious gains to be had. Would anyone consider buying one when they come out next year? Any comments would be welcome as I think this will effect our industry and is bound to spread.

  2. MarcSmith

    MarcSmith LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 7,157

    I was At GIE in orlando week before last. they had one of those self guided mowers in operation rigth next to the Lesco booth during the field day.

    It was quite funny when they started it up and tore through 2 rope barriers before the guys could stop it....I was LMAO Our jobs are still safe....

    Now if you have a 2-4 acre field with no obstacles I'd feel a bit more comfortable...
  3. impactlandscaping

    impactlandscaping LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,332

    Are you talking about an autonomous gps guided unit, or a remote controlled mower for steep hills and dangerous areas? The second mower, I have seen in person at Expo. Very nicely built machine, if you want to drop $26K on one.
  4. DEEJ

    DEEJ LawnSite Member
    Messages: 230

    Here is a link to the site:


    From the write-up I am not sure if the mower runs a random pattern like the robotic vacuum cleaners do, or if it can run striping patterns like we humans do. The specifications say that it can operate to +/- 1". If it can run back and forth striping patterns like we do, +/- 1" is better overlap than most of us will achieve!

    My assumption is you do a one time setup of reflectors on a customer's property, and then train the mower to do that specific property. The next time, you drop the mower off and let it cut while you trim and blow or do other tasks.

    The writeup does not talk about productivity - how many square feet per hour will it cut. They talk of reducing a two man crew to a one man crew. Is the one man sitting waiting for the mower to finish after he trims?

    The cost for the 38" unit is $3995 - BUT, and this is a big but, there is a per hour usage fee of $8.50 per hour, with a $200 monthly minimum during any 8 months of the year! Is there tax on top of that? The manufacturer dials into the mower once a month with a cell phone link and accesses the hourmeter so they can bill you for use. My first reaction to this is yikes! Every 1000 hours on this machine and you have to send $8500 to the manufacturer? That is the equivalent of a brand new 60" Lazer every 1000 hours. YIKES! I would much rather pay a higher non-recurring fee up front than pay a recurring fee like this. Recurring fees kill us. Take that phone bill, that cable bill, that internet bill. They are all small every month, but add them up over time - that is what kills us, not the $300 one time fee for something.

    Interesting product. I do see the industry going this way over time. The one lawn where I could see demoing this - my own ...

  5. Remsen1

    Remsen1 LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,020

    If I was an insurance company I wouldn't insure you with a robot mower. self guided may work up until they plant a tree or the dog gets in the way. I also wouldn't trust that the owner would always be there to supervise the machine or in a position to correct it, nor would I be comfortable that all the machine's fail-safes were really fail safe.
  6. richard mcmurtry

    richard mcmurtry LawnSite Member
    from bristol
    Messages: 2

    $8500 is alot cheaper than the recurring cost of labour. That seems good to me plus less labour issues.
  7. DEEJ

    DEEJ LawnSite Member
    Messages: 230

    Richard, yes you are correct. I imagine for $8500 every 1000 hours you wouldn't have the headaches of the lazy employee, the hung-over employee, the sick employee, and all of the other hassles that go along with it.

    In another thread here someone mentioned putting approx. 35 hours per week on their Z. In 8 months that is about 1120 hours. So I could see the annual usage fee for this mower averaging 10K or so. That is certainly cheaper and less hassle than an employee.

    As for the safety issues. This unit will adapt for new obstacles, won't run over humans or dogs. Yes there are safety features in place, yes you have to have some trust in them. We all drive cars every day and trust that the brakes will work when we need them to. I am sure the horse and buggy riders were up in arms about the safety of the new fangled horseless carriages. We trust safety features on basic equipment around us every day. This is no different - probably safer in fact with laser guidance and automatic shutdown features. It is certainly smarter than the cars we drive!

  8. MarcSmith

    MarcSmith LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 7,157

    they have a way to go with safety....after running through two rope barriers, one of which was supposed to a "boundray" with the reflector thingy's on the pole. I was not impressed. All things human and mechanical are fallable, accident will happen...

    I realize that the problem i saw was probably a minor glitch. but if you can't bring your game face to a trade show where you are demonstrating and trying to sell your product, then you might want to keep hitting the drawing board until it is perfected.

    I would not feel very comfortable letting a lawn mower run it self around my property unattended. But of course many of our older relatives don't feel comfortable around a computer or the internet either....Same kinda scenario....

    Maybe someday...
  9. mowtech

    mowtech LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 252

    I think robotics are in everyones future. It is just a matter of time. The real question is when not if. My concern with this particular unit; however, is that it is battery powered. I can't believe that there is enough power density in any battery system today to run a rotary mower with both decent blade sail height and tip speed for an okay quality of cut and run for very long, even without the weight of an operator.
  10. Remsen1

    Remsen1 LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,020

    I could learn to trust it, but if I was writing your insurance, I would cancel you in 1 second.

    It would take a while for me to learn to trust it but eventually I think I would learn. Why do I know my brakes are going to work? Because they worked the 1,000 previous times that I pressed them. How do I know a robot's brakes are going to work, if I never used them and never felt them fade.

    Another scenario would a robot with all of its sensors, when left with no choice, be smart enough to choose to ram into a tree instead of a person? Or an abandoned car instead of a Rolls Royce? Or a sugar donut instead of a hockey puck?

    I also must add that I would be more fearful of a negligent owner than a negligent robot.

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