Commercial Lawn Robots
There are three commercial-grade robotic lawn mowers on the market in the US. These include the Bigmow by Belrobotics, the L400 by Ambrogio, and the 450X by Husqvarna. Additional robotic lawn mowers include the Cub Cadet RG3, designed specifically for golf course greens, the TRAXX RF by Alamo Industries, and the ILD02 by Spider, both of which are remote-controlled tracked mowers used primarily for dangerous and difficult-to-access grass maintenance areas including highways and slopes. A detailed overview of the industry is listed below, including an in-depth look into the potential US market size followed by commercial grade lawn robots, which includes companies with reputable distribution and the trends of each of their primary products.
potential us market size
In 2015, there were approximately 11,290 golf courses and country clubs in the United States however, no clear estimation around the number of sports fields was readily available. In addition, it does not appear that there is a definitive estimate of how many US golf courses or sports fields are currently using robot lawn mowers. This lack of information may be attributed to robot lawn mowers' recent entry into the US market on large scale and to commercial landscape contractors' hesitation to adapt to the new technology. Another barrier to adoption of 'driverless technology' for commercial golf and sports mowers in the US is the legal liability that exists in the US but not in the European and Australian markets.
According to the USGA, "golf is in the early stages of adopting GPS-guided equipment, particularly when compared to large scale agriculture". Also, while courses "are still years away from commercially available GPS-guided mowers, there are autonomous mowing options currently available for the turf (greens) market". In addition, approximately one-third of the golf courses in the United States do not have the necessary parameters to make utilizing GPS positioning robotic mowers economically feasible. They are either located in Northern states, where the weather prohibits year-round golf course use or have too lean of a financial situation. The Cub Cadet RG3 has been employed in dozens of golf courses throughout the US. One such course is the Santaluz Club which recently purchased five robotic greens mowers.
Belrobotics claims the Bigmow is the most powerful robotic mower in the world. It has a 20,000 square meter mowing capacity and can easily maintain very large grass areas such as sports fields, golf courses, public areas and public or private parks. With a cutting deck just over a meter wide, the mower is ideal for large commercial applications. It has been available in the US since at least 2008 when the US Army deployed two Bigmows to maintain grass areas at the U.S. Army Heritage and Education Center in Carlisle, PA and at Fort McNair in Washington D.C. No further information regarding the US Army's use of the Bigmow was found in the public domain. No further information was found regarding the Bigmow's use by sports complexes or golf courses in the US.
Ambrogio Robot mowers are among the top brands of robotic lawn mowers in the world, according to recent news reports. The Ambrogio Robot has been manufactured since 2002 in Italy and was one of the first three brands sold in Europe when lawn mowing robots first launched commercially.
Paradise Robotics, in partnership with Zucchetti Centro Sistemi, the manufacturer of Ambrogio robots, brought Ambrogio to the USA and Canadian markets, under the Lawnbot brand, in January 2017 and became the wholesale authorized distributor for Ambrogio Robotic Lawn Mowers. The Ambrigio L400 is the commercial grade robot lawn mower entry by Zucchetti Centro Systems. This robot maintains up to five acres of grass. There are seven Lawnbot dealers in the US, of which, all are located east of the Mississippi River. The Ambrogio brand is distributed by Paradise Robotics capitalizing on its large sales network in the US market. "They are convinced that even the American consumer will find out how the high-performance robotic technology used in the Ambrogio models can meet both the smallest mowing needs as well as the more complex properties of large size with slopes, several areas to manage and parks of over 7 acres".
Husqvarna's entry into the commercial grade robot lawn mower space is the 450X. It contains an onboard GPS system that creates a map of the mowing area and includes the location of the boundary and guide wires. This machine can mow an area up to 6,000 square meters on average on one charge. The Husqvarna website includes a detail of US distribution which includes a few thousand authorized dealers. In addition, the 450X is shown to be available on Amazon and eBay. The 450X has a 5-star rating by Cordless Electric Mowers Review and state that the 450X outperforms all other automowers they had reviewed as of July 2017. The 450X was installed at the Google campus on a fourteen acre tract by Gardenland Power Equipment and Husqvarna USA in July 2016.
cub cadet rg3
The Cub Cadet RG3 was officially unveiled as its entry into the golf market at the Golf Industry Show in San Antonio Feb. 25-26, 2015. Its Precise Path Technology allows the machine to cut straight lines across golf greens, a must for greens mowers, and reduces labor costs by up to 50%. "Since its introduction, the RG3 has been operated, demonstrated and tested at over two dozen courses nationwide, mowing more than 45 million square feet of greens." Cub Cadet, a Valley City, Ohio based manufacturer of lawn mowers, brought the RG3 to market in late 2009. In addition, the product has an active social media campaign as evidenced by its Facebook page.
Alamo Industrial traxx-rf
The Traxx RF is a tracked remote control mower designed for slopes, heavy-duty mowing or dangerous grass and brush areas. The machine can be operated via remote control from up to 1,000 feet and at speeds 25 times faster than normal walk-behind models. It showcases a 51-inch mowing deck and an environmental friendly 40hp diesel engine. The manufacturer, Alamo Industrial, began in 1969 and is widely known for its wide-swath flex-wing mowers designated as the Terrain King. The TRAXX RF is distributed through Alamo Industrial's worldwide distribution channels. It is marketed specifically for municipal public works departments, responsible for wide swaths of grass areas, through multiple trade shows in the US including the Public Works Expo in Kansas City, Missouri. It has also been used for several years to maintain the NJ Turnpike.
The Spider ILD02 is able to mow up to 7500 square meters, without refueling, using its Kawasaki gas engine and its 1.23 meter mowing deck at speeds up to 8km per hour. The applications for the Spider are extensive: military areas such as hangars, ammo depots and weapon testing sites, for the maintenance of agricultural and farming areas, power plants, airports, mountain hotels, downhill runs and parks. It can also be used for the mowing of golf courses and other sports grounds.
The Spider is distributed in the US by Slope Care, which became authorized dealers of Spider mowers in 2007. They have been used by the Illinois Tollway since four were purchased for $42,000 each in 2012.
There are smaller entries into the US market that have robotic lawn mowing technologies yet are not widely distributed. The TREX is manufactured by Evatech and is used primarily by government agencies. In addition, John Deere’s only entry into the robotic mower market is its Tango, a mower for consumers that sells in England. Toro, on the other hand, "experimented with the idea of an autonomous mower more than a decade ago. In 2002, the company partnered with NREC to build an autonomous mower for the golf market". At the time, the technology was not affordable nor advanced enough so the new technology was abandoned as its price was approximately twice the cost of a commercial mower. As of September 2016, Toro had not returned to the autonomous mowing market.
Commercial grade robotic lawn mowers are slowly and steadily entering the US market as their capabilities advance, their prices become more affordable and the hesitation of commercial landscapers subsides. Golf courses see the opportunity to save labor costs and remain the primary avenue of entry into this portion of the US market. Several global brands, including Husqvarna and Cub Cadet, have made large strides in this market.