Boulder robotics company makes landscaping easy, autonomous

BOULDER, Colorado – Summer in Colorado is a time when the loud sound of mowers and lawnmowers wakes our weekend mornings. But a bouldering company cuts down on human labor and attracts with a more work-friendly approach to gardening.

With Scythe Robotics, you’re in good company this week.

It’s the beginning of the end for the fuel-guzzling, traditional ride-on mowers used in landscaping.

“We find it sad that the best way we can protect all of our space today is really inefficient – polluting, gas-powered manual machines,” said Jack Morrison, CEO of Scythe Robotics.

Morrison combined his previous software experience with 3D mapping and the frustration of mowing his own lawn to bring a fleet of autonomous mowers to market.

“So they’re designed to mow large lots like this park here, or housing developments, schools, or office parks,” says Morrison.

How it works, a person drives the mower around the edge of the property to outline the area to be cut. Then the machine knows how to break that section into geometric shapes and gets to work.

“Once it memorizes some sort of border map, it knows how to put strips at any angle they want,” says Morrison.

Each of their mowers is equipped with eight cameras, GPS antennas and WiFi.

“Then when it hits a tree in the middle of the area, it can see it with the cameras, plan around it, make a nice circle around it, and move on,” says Morrison.

The machines are battery-operated and whisper-quiet so that they do not disturb the neighbors. However, a large part of their programming is security in case the mower encounters a person on its path.

“You don’t want to just circle people like a tree,” said Morrison. “They want to stop, make sure they are safely out of your area, and then move on.”

That’s because their goal is to stay in the background and minimize a labor-intensive process so crews can focus on the finer details of a project.

“You can take half your crew off the mower and keep them doing more creative and interesting work around the lots,” said Morrison. “From edging and trimming to caring for flower beds and collecting rubbish.”

The mowers are currently only available for commercial use, but they hope to develop a line of personal mowers in the future.

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