Sebert Landscape Implements Autonomous Commercial Mowers - The Edge from the National Association of Landscape Professionals

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Sebert Landscape Implements Autonomous Commercial Mowers

When RC Mowers announced their autonomous mower robots last fall, Steve Pearce, COO for Sebert Landscape, based in Bartlett, Illinois, says he was hooked after getting to demo the mowers.

“RC last fall blew me away with how far along they were with it, so we committed to two of them right away,” Pearce says.

Delivery of the mowers began in May and Sebert has been testing the robotic mowers out on select properties since then.

“Ultimately, as a company, we’re always looking for the cutting-edge side of things and new innovations,” Pearce says. “I think we push the limits with all types of things and quite honestly, we’ve been talking about this for better part of 10 or 12 years of knowing that this was happening and wanting to be on the forefront of it.”

Photo: Sebert Landscape

Pearce says the AMRs are ideal for properties with lots of open space. While drought conditions have slowed down their testing phase, Pearce says their operators have been spending a lot of time with the robotic mowers getting things dialed in.

Currently, they still send a three-man crew out with the AMRs, but Pearce says as their confidence grows he sees them eventually moving to a one- to two-man crew for those deployed with a robotic mower.

Because Sebert cares for properties throughout Chicago, Milwaukee and Rockford, they don’t have a lot of the ideal properties for robotic mowers close together on a route. Pearce says he could see them pursuing more landscapes that are suitable for the mowers in the future.

“We’re going to continue rolling with the two, and we’re going to see where it goes,” Pearce says. “I could see us getting more, but currently, a lot of it has to do more with our makeup of work.”

When on a property, the operator presses the plan mode button and mows the perimeter. Then they can mark areas within that perimeter as keep-out areas.

“Once you set a plan on a property, that plan is always there because there’s a phone application,” Pearce says. “You can send it out, and it’ll go right to that plan and within the application, you can then also change the mowing patterns.”

Pearce says they first heard about RC Mowers’ AMRs through their Gravely rep, as these robotic mowers are zero-turn models that can also be used manually.

“Since our establishment in 2018, it has been our ambition to introduce this revolutionary product to our customers and we are thrilled to deliver on that promise,” says Michael Brandt, CEO of RC Mowers. “As part of our AMR customer experience, we conduct comprehensive training and certification programs for the customer’s management and mowing staff to ensure safe and efficient operation of the Autonomous Mowing Robots.”

Pearce says the mowers cost around $65,000, and there is $199 a month connection fee.

“That is the bonus of the RC side of it because we’re not big on the leasing side,” Pearce says. “We want to invest in it, so we bought them outright.”

Pearce says that despite the cost, they see robotics as part of their future in the industry.

Photo: Sebert Landscape

“We believe that landscaping companies that are early adopters of autonomous technology will have a competitive advantage over those who are struggling to hire enough workers,” says Jeff Sebert, founder and CEO of the company. “The companies who embrace autonomy will be able to grow and scale their businesses while allowing their best talent to do the high-value work they prefer.”

Pearce says there are a lot of learning curves to robotic mowers and there are going to be great applications for it. However, every company is different as a whole, so owners have to look and see how it fits into their business. He suggests taking the time and committing to it.

“The biggest advice that I could give is if you’re interested in it, do it,” Pearce says. “Don’t wait for everybody else to do it.”

Jill Odom

Jill Odom is the senior content manager for NALP.