Penn State students participate in field day with Husqvarna’s Automower

January 16, 2019 -  By
(Photo: Dan Eichenlaub)

Photo: Dan Eichenlaub

How do you feel about robotic mowers? This is the question Penn State University students recently asked customers of Eichenlaub Inc., a full-service landscape firm based in Pittsburgh.

Nearly 100 students took part in the field day hosted at Eichenlaub Inc.’s headquarters. The event included a live case study where students called and spoke directly with Eichenlaub Inc.’s customers to get feedback on having their property serviced with a robotic mower.

Dan Eichenlaub, owner of Eichenlaub Inc., which is a LandOpt contractor, hosted the event alongside Husqvarna’s Brian Luzier and Penn State’s Dean Richard Roush. During the field day, students learned, discussed and brainstormed how to bring innovation to existing businesses and to an industry. “Existing companies must innovate or they die,” Eichenlaub says.

Husqvarna’s Automower was demonstrated to the students, who are minoring in entrepreneurship and innovation as part of their degree from Penn State. “The students that are taking this minor aren’t necessarily in agriculture. This is an opportunity to expose them to the landscaping industry,” says Eichenlaub, a Penn State alumnus. “If we want to be able to recruit in this industry, people need to know about it from the current perspective.”

Embracing robots with open arms

Luzier, commercial sales manager at Husqvarna, says that out of all of the customers the students interviewed, more than 80 percent are willing to let a professional landscaping company maintain their lawn autonomously. “Most (property owners) have said that they trust the professional landscaper’s judgement when it comes to what is best for their property,” he says. “The Automower is the future, and by future, I don’t mean three years from now, I mean the 2019 cutting season.”

Speaking to students (Photo: Dan Eichenlaub)

Photo: Dan Eichenlaub

Dan Eichenlaub, owner of Eichenlaub, Inc., and Brian Luzier, Commercial Sales Manager of Husqvarna, speak to Penn State students about autonomous mowing.

Operation tour (Photo by Angela Barr, courtesy of Eichenlaub)

Photo by Angela Barr, courtesy of Eichenlaub

Penn State students tour Eichenlaub’s operation in Pittsburgh.

Dean Richard Roush (Photo by Angela Barr, courtesy of Eichenlaub)

Photo by Angela Barr, courtesy of Eichenlaub

College of Agricultural Sciences Dean Richard Roush speaks about innovation to students visiting Eichenlaub, Inc., a landscape services firm in Pittsburgh.

Dan Eichenlaub (Photo by Angela Barr, courtesy of Eichenlaub)

Photo by Angela Barr, courtesy of Eichenlaub

Dan Eichenlaub, owner of Eichenlaub, Inc., a landscape services firm in Pittsburgh, explains to Penn State agribusiness management students how his company is evaluating autonomous lawnmower technology to service lawn maintenance customers.

Husqvarna’s Automower (Photo by Angela Barr, courtesy of Eichenlaub)

Photo by Angela Barr, courtesy of Eichenlaub

Students get an up-close look at Husqvarna’s Automower during a visit to Eichenlaub, Inc.

Danielle Pesta

About the Author:

Danielle Pesta is the associate editor of Landscape Management. She started writing for the green industry in 2014 and has won multiple awards from the Turf & Ornamental Communicators Association (TOCA). She can be reached at dpesta@northcoastmedia.net.

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