STMA proudly awards ECHO Robotics its “Innovative Award” for their Autonomous Mower TM-2000. The self-driving, self-charging, self-sufficient unit mows up to 5 acres of turf efficiently while finely mulching clippings to promote turf health. Eight times more efficient than traditional units, this mower saves time and labor for facility managers, and can be remotely commanded via web platform or mobile app.
STMA’s Innovative Award Program recognizes STMA commercial company members who’ve developed a product, service, equipment or technology that substantially enhances the efficiency and effectiveness of the sports turf manager and/or makes the playing surfaces safer and/or more playable for athletes. Chosen by STMA’s Innovative Awards Task Group, entries are evaluated on a wide range of qualities including whether or not they fill a need; are creative; save time and resources; are cutting-edge; make a task easier or more productive; improve quality; protect the environment and improve efficiency.
STMA chatted with ECHO Robotics about their winning innovation, how it helps sports turf managers and what innovation means to the industry:
STMA: When was the Autonomous Mower TM-2000 introduced?
ER: The TM-2000 will officially be introduced to the North American market during the 2019 STMA Show in Phoenix. An earlier version of the product has been available in Europe under the Belrobotics brand and is currently maintaining over 1,000 soccer fields.
STMA: What was the process like of bringing it to fruition?
ER: Prior to introduction to the North American market the product has been completely overhauled, including a strengthened frame, improved motors, new electronics, new firmware with enhanced functionality, improved communication capability and user interface. The new prototypes have been tested in the US for more than 2 years and are now ready for release.
STMA: What inspired you to create it?
ER: Robotic mowing has been growing at a rapid pace in Europe, where more than 500,000 units are sold annually. However, the focus has been on homeowner applications. North America has been slow to adopt robotics even though the need exists. It is well documented that there are shortages of labor and resources for producing safe, quality playing surfaces. Sports Turf Managers are constantly asked to provide more with less, so our robots can address their concerns while providing additional benefits to their turf.
STMA: Who should be using the mower?
ER: Our target is sports fields. Our robots provide a consistent height of cut at all times while reducing watering, fertilizing and labor requirements.
STMA: How is this an “innovation”? What makes it different?
ER: While this is not the first product of its kind to mow areas autonomously, it is the first available to handle larger areas. The TM-2000 mower can handle up to 5 acres of turf emissions free with substantially lower energy costs when compared to traditional fuel powered mowers.
STMA: Is there anything else readers should know about the Autonomous Mower TM-2000?
ER: Once a TM-2000 mower is set up it constantly mows the designated area. This means that the area(s) will stay at a consistent height all the time. Since the area is constantly being cut there is no need for grass clipping management theoretically reducing fertilization and water requirements. Basic commands and performance monitoring can be handled remotely utilizing our web portal or smartphone application.
STMA: Tell me a little bit more about your involvement with STMA. Why are you members? Why do you exhibit at the STMA Annual Conference and Exhibition?
ER: First and foremost, we support the STMA because it is a critical component of the green industry. It supports its members with information and support that keeps them abreast with best practices. As such, we feel that the STMA show is the very best opportunity to introduce our robotics mowers. The category itself is new and the members need to understand the benefits of robotic mowing in order to make informed decisions about what is best for them.
STMA: Why do you think innovation is important in the industry?
ER: Innovation is critical to advance any industry. Through constant innovation, new techniques and methods can be developed to ensure sustainable, superior turf maintenance at an affordable cost.
Part of ECHO Incorporated and founded in 1972, ECHO has specialized in superior green space management products for the outdoor power equipment industry. To find out more about the TM-2000 and other ECHO products please visit echorobotics.com.