If you attended the 2019 GIE+Expo in Louisville, Kentucky, you may have witnessed the Atom being split — well, the credit for it, anyway. The Atom is the acronymic name of the large-area autonomous commercial electric zero-turn mower, the product of a joint venture between Cincinnati-based battery-powered equipment manufacturer Mean Green Mowers and the Kobi Company, a robotic solutions manufacturer based in New York City.
At the show, Mean Green Mowers' president Joe Conrad pulled the tarp off the new unit, saying that it was produced as an answer to the shortage of competent labor that currently plagues the landscape industry. As stated in Mean Green Mowers company literature, “While previous large autonomous mowers have been developed, none have been able to meet the market expectations regarding accuracy, versatility, price and safety until now.”
And safety was the watchword here. According to the two companies, that is enhanced by the incorporation of artificial intelligence into the mower’s “brain.” At the unveiling press conference, representatives from Kobi demonstrated to reporters and show attendees how AI helps the Atom differentiate between grass, inanimate objects and humans. On a screen, grass and other objects were colored green and the humans present were shown in red; it avoided touching anything that color.
Mean Green and Kobi claim that their Atom can produce the same amount of work that two or more human mowing crew members could perform in one day. They also claim that the Atom’s combined fuel, maintenance and labor savings could save a landscape maintenance contractor up to $20.00 to $30.00 per hour, providing a return on investment measured in months instead of years.
“We are proud to be working with The Kobi Company to convert our latest electric mowers to quiet, zero emission autonomous mowing machines,” said Conrad. “It’s a natural to combine our latest commercial electric mowers with high tech robotic automation.”
You can’t buy one quite yet; exclusive testing with selected customers is still going on and will continue through 2020, as is pending certification under new American National Standards Institute robotics protocols. Mean Green Mowers and Kobi have targeted the Atom for production by 2021.