AP NEWS

Robin Autopilot to introduce robotic mowing service at Great Big Home and Garden Show this weekend

January 31, 2019

Robin Autopilot to introduce robotic mowing service at Great Big Home and Garden Show this weekend

CLEVELAND, Ohio – While people are still chipping ice off their sidewalks, Landmark Automation, a local startup, is thinking spring and will launch robotic lawn mowers at the Great Big Home and Garden Show this weekend.

Logan Fahey, chief executive officer of Landmark Automation, says while there are about 2 million robotic lawn mowers in Europe, North America is just now starting to adopt the technology. It’s similar in concept to the robot vacuum cleaners.

“The reason we have no competitors is because we offer this on a subscription model, versus paying $3,000 in a retail store and having to do the install and maintenance yourself,” Fahey said.

The idea is that customers purchase a subscription service that costs about $19 per week. The fee includes installation, maintenance, GPS tracking, wire repairs and theft protection.

The mowers are produced by MTD Products in Israel by a company called Robomow, which is owned by the Northeast Ohio-based company. Homeowners who subscribe to the service will be able to keep the mowers on their properties from April to November and the autonomous mowers park themselves in charging bases located in their back yards. The mowers are in operation two to three hours a day.

Officials at Robin Autopilot say that there will be no contracts in Cleveland, and customers are not obligated to keep the machines for any specified period of time.

The company had a beta test of about two dozen mowers on the West Side of Cleveland this past summer and Fahey said he’s encouraged by the results.

Ernie Richmond, 46, a homeowner in Avon Lake, said he remembers seeing the robotic lawn mower on Shark Tank and thinking it was cool. But he didn’t think anything more about it until this past fall when he saw online an opportunity to take part in a beta test. He said he was paying a landscaper $50 a week, so he figured he had nothing to lose by trying it out for $19 a week.

Richmond said he was initially skeptical, but now he’s impressed and plans to subscribe to the service when the weather breaks.

“The performance was great. I tend to be particular about my lawn and I feared it would leave ugly track patterns, but it didn’t. The fact is it runs daily, sometimes multiple times a day because it mows in a random pattern. Then it returns to its home to get recharged. The cool thing is that the lawn stays the same height.”

Fahey said the beta test went better than expected, and now the company is already trying to expand to Florida where the mowers can be used all year.

“The landscaping sector has not had any disruptors in the last couple of decades and it’s a $93 billion market with more than 1 million employees. The biggest threat to the industry is a lack of available workforce, which is why robotics is providing a solution.

“Standard commercial mowers produce five times the amount of pollution than the average car,” said Fahey, 25, a serial entrepreneur and consultant who is also the former general manager of social enterprise Bloom Bakery. “These mowers are battery powered and eco-friendly.”

Landmark Lawn and Garden and the Fahey group partnered to create Landmark Automation, which owns the rights to Robin Autopilot in Northeast Ohio. Valley City, Ohio-based MTD Products is a partner and investor in Robin Autopilot.

Robin officials say the robots are quiet, can mow in the rain, and can be programmed for precise daily cutting for a greener, healthier lawn. The company’s crews also use eco- friendly battery-powered edgers, trimmers, and blowers.

“We are excited to be partnering with Landmark Automation to offer this service in the Cleveland area,” Justin Crandall, chief executive officer of Robin Autopilot, said in a statement. “Robin gives our customers a powerful way to limit air and noise pollution and keep their lawns looking fresh-cut every day, while helping bring about meaningful environmental change through their choice of lawn care service.”

The company says the fully electric robotic lawn care service can reduce as much pollution every week as replacing two family cars with electric vehicles. Robin Autopilot has been featured on ABC’s Shark Tank, CBS This Morning, and as part of TechCrunch Disrupt’s Startup Battlefield.

Beta tester and customer Richmond said it was interesting to see others watching the mower during his October and November try-out.

“It’s been the talk of the neighborhood. Cars stop in front of my house and watch it. A landscaper in the back of my house was videoing it. It gets a lot of attention,” he said. “I can see how the beta test started creating buzz for the company.”

AP RADIO
Update hourly