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Dallas startup takes big step in bringing autonomous mowers to commercial maintenance

March 29, 2017 -  By
Husqvarna Automower

Husqvarna previewed its Automower at a recent event in Miami.

Industry stalwarts have long wondered when robotic- and autonomous-mower technology—versions of which are already used by many homeowners, especially in Europe—would hit the commercial maintenance front. Cub Cadet, Toro, Husqvarna and John Deere have all released or tested some form of the technology, and last February, LM wrote about an investor who is working with the National Robotics Engineering Center to try to develop an autonomous commercial-grade mower for the golf and landscape industries.

Well, one lawn maintenance startup company in North Dallas thinks it’s figured out how to turn the existing technology into a profitable business.

According to an in-depth report by The Dallas Morning News, Justin Crandall and Bart Lomont have launched a company called Robin, which has already employed Roomba-style, electric robotic mowers on 36 clients’ lawns. The company plans to install 50 robotic mowers per month, CEO Crandall told the newspaper.

“People just stop what they’re doing when they’re walking by and watch it for awhile,” he told The Dallas Morning News. “Everyone is in awe of it.”

Starting in 2015, the company first tested the “Uber-for lawn care” model, similar to Plowz and Mowz or LawnStarter. It kept its technological base but soon ditched the on-demand model. Its business comes from more than just the 36 robotic mowers. The company performs traditional maintenance services on 6,000 lawns in Dallas, Fort Worth, Texas, Austin, Texas, Miami, Tampa, Fla. and Atlanta.

The company buys its robotic mowers, which are customized specifically for Robin, from Positec, Husqvarna and Robomow.

Maintenance from a robotic mower starts at $99 per month and goes up to $199 per month. The larger package includes mowing, edging, weeding and shrub trimming. There is also an up-front installation cost of $99 or $199, depending on whether they sign up for one season or a month-to-month plan, according to the report. From there, the contract basically works like the customer is leasing the mower.

There have been some hiccups. The company had half of the 12 mowers it installed during its pilot period stolen from yards. After only recovering three of the six mowers, they added a GPS tracker and stickers warning of prosecution.

In addition, many clients are hesitant to move to robotic mowers. Crandall said many people are used to traditional lawn maintenance practices.

“Inertia is our biggest competitor,” he told the newspaper.

Read the full report at  

About the Author:

Dillon Stewart graduated from Ohio University’s E.W. Scripps School of Journalism, earning a Bachelor of Science in Online Journalism with specializations in business and political science. Stewart is a former associate editor of LM.

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