The driverless mower hums to life and takes off down the lawn. As Greenzie Co-founder and CEO Charles Brian Quinn says, “This is where it gets boring. The mower is simply [autonomous mowing].”
Greenzie, the brainchild of Charles Brian Quinn and David Cummings, is a business on a mission to “free humans from repetitive outdoor labor.” Partnering with Wright Commercial Mowers, Greenzie has invented an autonomous commercial mower that lowers labor costs and increases efficiency for landscapers and their teams.
Quinn says that he was always interested in the interplay between hardware and software. His obsession with autonomous mowing began when Cummings asked, “Why is my Robomower so dumb?” Although robotic mowers promise to take the hassle out of yard work, Quinn says they’re often fickle and need attention. Is it possible, Quinn wondered, to create the Tesla of lawnmowers?
After years of experimentation, the Greenzie team has developed and shipped commercial lawn mowers that map and auto-stripe large fields. This frees their team members to go about edging or taking care of other lawn maintenance needs. At first, the company sought to create kits able to retrofit lawnmowers. Through their partnership with Wright, Greenzie has integrated their software to create a mower capable of autonomous and manual mowing.
At a price point “in the high-teens” with a monthly subscription software service, Greenzie allows customers to spend more of their energy focused on the craft of landscaping and not “cutting the middle.” The Greenzie mower contains depth-sensing cameras that create a ground-plane and centimeter GPS that fuses with odometer measures to develop a comprehensive picture of the land in front of the mower. The mower widens its safe stopping range in relation to its velocity. In other words, the faster the mower goes, the further away it detects obstacles and stops. As a safety redundancy, the mower uses ultrasonic sensors, like those found on cars, to detect objects directly in front of the mower that might have avoided its peripheral vision. Additionally, the mower utilizes a remote control developed from mine-clearing robots that allow the landscaper to cut the electricity from the mower immediately. As Quinn points out, unlike humans, the Greenzie mower does not get tired at the end of the day and will never rush a project by deviating from its parameters and limitations. Once a landscaper has used the mower to set a boundary, the mower plots a course and gets the job done.
Quinn believes that the best user interface is no user interface. While that might not be a possibility right now, Greenzie has tried to make operating their product as easy as possible. For such a complex machine, the mower contains only a few controls. On the mower, there are two buttons for autonomous mowing–one to start the system and one to begin the mapping process. Additionally, a user can scan the lawnmower’s QR code to monitor the mower’s progress through a web application. Once the job is finished, the landscaper can access data about the cut.
Greenzie is an innovative company that looks to redefine an entire industry. However, the product is just one more example of autonomous technology’s revolutionary capacity. The fact of the matter is that autonomous vehicles will change every aspect of our society. We must realize that autonomous vehicles are not a futuristic dream but a current reality. Every industry and input will be impacted by autonomous technology. For more information on autonomous vehicles, subscribe to the Driverless Commute and check out our resources.