It’s that time of year when everything is blooming and growing. For many in North America, it seems they need to cut their grass every other day. Keeping lawns well trimmed is important not just to boost curb appeal, but it also helps promote healthy regrowth and minimize pests. For smaller yards, regular mowing is not that big of a deal. For large yards and commercial properties, mowing can become tedious and time consuming. Thomas, who lives on a 20-acre retired farm in Warren County, NJ said, “By the time I finally finish mowing the whole property, it’s time to start back over again.” Looking to revolutionize the landscaping industry, Jack Morrison, Davis Foster, and Isaac Roberts decided to apply drone technology to lawnmowers.
After graduating with a BA in Computer Science from Bowdoin College in Maine, Jack began his career building computer imaging systems for drones. Soon he was ready to branch out on his own and had the good fortune of meeting Davis and Isaac. Together the three established Replica Labs building “monocular, dense 3D reconstruction systems from early smartphone video,” states Jack’s bio. Replica Labs was acquired by Occipital in 2016, giving Jack, Davis, and Isaac the time and funds to focus on their next big idea. In 2018, the trio founded Scythe Robotics out of Longmont, CO, raising $749K to develop a drone that goes beyond cutting grass.
Scythe’s mission is “To provide the most advanced and sustainable autonomous technology for maintaining off-road environments safely, effectively, and responsibly.” The resulting product is a drone that looks much like a ride on lawnmower, just without the seat. The drone weighs 1,100lbs and rolls effortlessly on 20×12″ tires and flat-free casters. With a top speed of 10mph, the drone can efficiently cut grass to heights of 1.5-6″ in record time. The drone automatically adjusts speed when sensing changes in grass texture, density, and terrain to ensure an even cut. With 360° sensors, the mower drone creates a map to cover every square inch of lawn to be cut, while safely avoiding all obstacles (human or terrain).
Designing something environmentally friendly was of paramount concern for everyone at Scythe. Fully powered by a long lasting battery, the drone is a zero emission mower. It simply needs to be charged at night and can then work all day long. Scythe is working to push the drone to operate for 50,000 hours before any servicing is needed. And landscapers across the US are jumping for a chance to start using Scythe’s drone. To keep up with growing interest, Scythe announced a Series A round of funding in June of 2021, bringing in $13.8M for development costs.
In May of 2022, Scythe announced that they were bringing on the former head of manufacturing and production of SpaceX, Brian Merkel, to expand operations. Following Brian joining the team, Scythe received advanced orders for more than 5,000 units. “Our mower, currently fielded in three states, solves labor shortages that have persisted for years and increases the productivity of landscaping crews,” Jack said. “This all comes with the environmental benefits of zero emissions and quieter mowing, which is very important to landscapers who play a crucial role as caretakers for outdoor environments.”