Innovator Series: Building A Smarter Mower - The Edge from the National Association of Landscape Professionals

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Innovator Series: Building A Smarter Mower

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The adoption of smart technology across industries continues to grow as organizations and businesses look for solutions to tackle today’s challenges and realize tomorrow’s potential. Products like smart sensors, cloud computing and IoT devices are becoming more commonplace in businesses of all sizes. And while professional landscaping has seen its fair share of back-office innovation from logistics software to automation, the commercial lawn mower has largely remained the same manually driven machine.

Photo: Cub Cadet

As a brand on the cutting edge, Cub Cadet is introducing a new chapter in true landscaping innovation with its first GPS-operated semi-autonomous commercial mowers. The Cub Cadet PRO Series PRO Z™ 960 S and 972 S SurePath™ units are outfitted with GPS Auto Steer technology and an exclusive four-wheel steering system that provide a semi-autonomous experience designed to maximize efficiency and productivity while minimizing effort and training. The operator simply needs to set the preliminary cut line, and the PRO Z SurePath units will perform straight cutting paths with an auto-zero-turn at the end of each row with the touch of a button.

Field research shows SurePath Auto Steer technology significantly reduces overlap and increases productivity by more than 0.5 acres per hour compared to traditional lap-bar steering controls, allowing the operator to complete a property in less time while producing superior cut quality.*

“We see SurePath Auto Steer technology as the ultimate efficiency tool. Landscapers can look forward to time savings to shorten their days or take on additional accounts,” says Josh Sooy, Director, Professional Business Segment, Cub Cadet. “Instead of simply offering wider decks that can be hard to power, difficult to maneuver, and often times scalp on uneven terrain, we set out to improve productivity by dramatically increasing the efficiency on standard size decks through technological innovation.”

Minimizing Effort and Training

Like other industries, post-pandemic labor shortages have plagued landscaping businesses, forcing owners to delay jobs or outright turn away new clients. The lack of skilled labor means more time and resources are being diverted to training new hires who lack experience operating larger commercial mowers, resulting in reduced productivity and poor cut quality.

Because of the semi-autonomous nature of the GPS technology, every single operator, from new hires to landscaping vets, can be expected to deliver consistent quality cuts and efficient operation when using a PRO Z SurePath unit. Plus, the simple and intuitive user experience helps lower the learning curve and reduces the time necessary to train new landscapers.

“Cub Cadet’s SurePath Auto Steer technology enables even the most inexperienced operators to quickly rival and even surpass the speed and cut quality of experienced landscaping professional,” says Sooy. “Not only does this mean greater overall productivity and efficiency for landscaping businesses, but also a lower risk of turf damage and unhappy customers.”

Reducing Physical and Mental Fatigue

Beyond efficiency, cut quality and an intuitive user experience, SurePath Auto Steer represents a new era in ride comfort for operators. By automating the turning and steering, the GPS technology helps reduce hand-arm vibrations, manual inputs and the need for sustained concentration. As a result, landscapers will have more time and energy to devote to other high-priority tasks and projects.

Photo: Cub Cadet

“Reducing operator physical and mental fatigue is a business priority for many landscapers looking to increase workforce productivity and satisfaction,” says Sooy. “Similar to lane assist and adaptive cruise control in the auto industry has made long drives less draining, SurePath Auto Steer gives operators the confidence to mow perfect stripes without the stress and effort typically required to achieve said perfection.”

While not every innovation or technology comes with the assurance of strength and quality, PRO Z SurePath units deliver on both. Built on the trusted PRO Z 960 S and PRO Z 972 S platforms, the PRO Z SurePath units are outfitted with 16CC transmissions, 26-inch rear tires and a high-performance FX1000v Kawasaki® engine, and are backed by a 3-year no hour limit warranty or a 5-year 1,750-hour limited deck warranty.

Cub Cadet’s SurePath Auto Steer technology represents a new chapter in landscaping innovation. Semi-autonomous mowers that once seemed years down the road are now a reality, delivering tangible and immediate benefits to landscapers. And with the release of the two PRO Z SurePath units, Cub Cadet is taking the first step in evolving what has always been a manual machine into something more.

The Cub Cadet SurePath units will be available in early 2022. Visit to learn more.

*SurePath™ efficiency and savings statistics are intended for illustrative purposes only. The efficiency and saving information presented are mathematically extrapolated from the measured overlap improvements between a Cub Cadet© SurePath™ equipped commercial zero-turn mower with a 72” cutting deck/cut width when compared with an otherwise identically equipped Cub Cadet mower with traditional lap-bar steering controls operated by a variety of professional landscapers in controlled conditions. The overlap improvements were measured by a third-party testing firm which also extrapolated those results based on commercial mowing industry norms and standards they identified. Actual results in the field will vary based on operator preferences, mowing conditions, terrain, site configurations, and other factors.
Cub Cadet commercial products are intended for professional use. SurePath functionality based on market availability. Programs and specs subject to change without notice.

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