The Tesla Of Lawn Mowers: Soon Your Cars Won't Be Your Only Self-Driving, All-Electric Vehicle

·2 min read

Tesla Inc. has been largely credited with the modern mainstream push toward the electrification of vehicles — a trend that has quickly gained traction in dozens of other corners of society.

From the increased prominence of micro-mobility scooters to self-driving food delivery drones, there is a clear trend of increased electrification.

The trend has been rewarding investors and early movers, too. The recent meteoric rise in electric vehicle (EV) companies like Tesla, Li Auto Inc. and Nio Inc. highlight this trend most clearly. But even Bird Global Inc. once raised $275 million at a $2.5 billion valuation, and Starship Technologies has raised over $202 million to bring its food delivery robots to life.

It seems the next phase of electrification is coming to a lawn near you. Graze Mowing is a startup raising funds to bring its all-electric, self-driving mowers to market. Graze is currently running a number of live commercial pilot programs at Vandenberg Space Force Base, Sundale Country Club and the City of Glendale, so the timeline might not be as far away as it seems.

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The mowers are primarily focused on larger fields like golf courses, parks and solar fields, but they can perform a variety of functions. For example, they have a variety of mower decks and can mow a putting green at different lengths than a fairway. The all-electric nature of the vehicles, paired with their self-driving ability, allows the robot to mow quietly at night and then return to its charging station.

The mowers have a number of features like light direction and ranging (lidar), odometry sensors and cameras with built-in machine learning and computer vision capabilities. These allow the mowers to detect and react accordingly to obstacles such as rocks, sticks, animals and humans. The possible obstacles a mower can encounter are likely less than that of a car, allowing for at least slightly quicker development of this technology compared with their EV counterparts.

A number of large landscape customers have signed on as potential customers with over $32 million in nonbinding letters of intent. They’re expected to start scaling commercial manufacturing in 2024, so once they’re ready, they can hit the ground running.

Graze is focused on building the base product, but potential expansions reportedly include different-sized cutting decks, edgers, aerating, bagging and fertilizer systems.

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