Bobcat announces “ride-and-repeat” autonomous mower
Bobcat has announced a new autonomous mowing system in conjunction with a strategic investment in Greenzie, a startup company for outdoor equipment autonomous software.
This new zero-turn mower is designed to perform tasks without an onboard operator.
“I grew up on a farm and I spent the better part of 20 years mowing grass, so I know firsthand the labor that's involved,” says Joel Honeyman, vice president of global innovation for Bobcat. “If an operator can have this mower running autonomously while they are doing some other things, maybe they're doing some other work in the yard or on the farm, that gives more freedom with their time besides just sitting on that lawnmower.”
Working side by side with autonomy
Bobcat will be introducing this technology on its ZT6100 commercial-grade, zero-turn mower. This autonomous operation mode is designed to be used while the operator is nearby, freeing them up to take care of other tasks while it is mowing.
The Bobcat mower can operate autonomously thanks to its “ride-and-repeat” prescription feature, all managed and edited from a smartphone. Operators will plot a course for the mower to follow by riding and mowing as usual, marking areas for it to avoid while driving on its own. When the mower comes to an unmarked obstacle, the mower will stop and send an alert as well as a photo to the operator, who can then decide whether to proceed with the path.
Autonomous tech development
Bobcat’s investment in Greenzie will accelerate Bobcat’s development of autonomous capabilities across its line-up of vehicles. Honeyman says there are a lot of startup companies operating in the autonomous space, but found synergy between Bobcat and Greenzie’s culture.
“We are thrilled to close our largest investment round to date with a strategic investment by an industry leader like Bobcat,” says Charles Brian Quinn, co-founder and CEO of Greenzie. “Our customers are desperate for solutions that help them overcome their biggest challenge: labor shortages. Our software helps crews be more productive, and will run on reliable, rugged Bobcat equipment they trust.”
The autonomous mower is not quite ready for commercial operation yet, with testing planned for later this year and throughout next year.
“We are doing our homework for what regulations may apply to this technology, and working with the Association of Equipment Manufacturers on different safety and regulations of different types of equipment,” says Honeyman.
The Bobcat autonomous mower is still in the early testing phase, currently planned to launch as a factory option for the ZT6100 in late 2023. For more information about Bobcat’s product line-up, visit Bobcat.com.