June 15, 2021
Boulder, Colo.-based Scythe Robotics, which develops commercial-grade autonomous robots for the landscaping industry, has emerged from stealth with its first offering – an all-electric, fully autonomous mower. The company also announced raising $13.8 million in Series A funding, led by Inspired Capital.
Founded in 2018 by Jack Morrison, Isaac Roberts and Davis Foster, Scythe’s launch is aimed at disrupting the $105 billion commercial landscaping industry, which has been affected by labor shortages and little technological innovation in decades, the company said.
“Mowing sits at the center of a green industry labor crisis,” said Fred Haskett, an industry consultant with The Harvest Group and advisor for Scythe. “In full-service landscape management companies, mowing operations account for up to 40% of labor utilization. Scythe is a game-changer, delivering a tech-forward approach for landscape contractors to reimagine their operations and bridge critical labor shortages.”
Scythe’s autonomous mower is designed to keep crew productivity high while also increasing the quality of cut and worker safety. The machine includes eight high-definition cameras and several other sensors that enable it to operate safely in dynamic environments by identifying and responding to the presence of humans, animals, and other potential obstacles. In addition, the machine captures property and mower performance data, which helps landscape contractors improve their workflow, identify upselling opportunities, schedule more efficiently, and manage labor costs.
The company said its robot-as-a-service (RaaS) model allows for contractors to reduce their expenses – instead of buying machines outright, customers are billed by the number of acres mowed. This also eliminates the cost of equipment maintenance and downtime, Scythe added.
The sustainable nature of the electric mower also allows landscape contractors to reduce the release of fossil fuel and noise emissions. Scythe said the air pollution from just one hour of using a gas-powered mower is equivalent to driving a car more than 100 miles. “To date, commercial landscape contractors haven’t had a technology partner who enables them to keep up with demand and to operate emissions-free,” said Jack Morrison, co-founder and CEO of Scythe. “We are that partner. Our autonomous mower gives them the ability to grow their business while staying green. It’s designed from the ground up to be an order of magnitude more reliable, more productive, and safer than any existing machine by incorporating state-of-the-art autonomy with a rugged, all-electric design.”
Scythe’s founders pose with the company’s first product, an autonomous, electric commercial mower.
Ivan Giraldo, co-founder and president of Austin, Texas-based Clean Scapes, said he has been looking for solutions that will support frontline employees and increase the efficiency of operations. “Scythe’s product will do just that,” said Giraldo. “I’ve been open with employees about the opportunity autonomous mowers will bring: to get them off the mowers and onto higher value landscaping work, enabling us to take on many new contracts.”
Existing investors True Ventures, Zigg Capital, and Lemnos participated in this funding round in addition to Inspired Capital. The company said it has now raised a total of $18.6 million in total funding, and will also accelerate development of further products to help revolutionize how landscape contractors care for outdoor environments.
For more details on the company, head to the Scythe Robotics website.