However, city life is changing alongside new technology innovation. Smart cities won’t just be the biggest metropolitan areas - they’ll spread out into today’s suburbs. As a result, even lawn care will be an aspect of the smart city.
MODERN EXPECTATIONS CHANGING LAWN CARE DEMANDS
Consumers expect to do just about everything from their phones. And with that comes a sense of immediacy - people don’t want to wait for things.
People don’t want to make multiple phone calls and have house visits to determine a pricing structure for lawn care. They want to enter an address and get an instant quote.
Beyond building the sort of digital experience consumers expect, the need for robotic lawnmowers is becoming increasingly clear. In Europe, the market for these machines has already reached $500 million compared to just $3 million in the United States.
As smart cities drive expectations for on-demand lawn care, there are two reasons why robotic lawn mowers will be necessary:
- Increased Reliability and Accessibility: When the mowing crew is entirely human with 20+ jobs/day, what do you do when it rains? You miss out on work for three or four days and suddenly, there’s a backlog of work and your providers can never catch up. However, robotic mowers can get out in the rain while eliminating the labor cost of mowing (making service far more a ordable).
- Limiting Environmental Impact of Smart Cities: Pollution is already a problem in cities and urbanization trends will only accelerate concerns. Lawn mowing equipment currently accounts for 5% of air pollution while 17 million gallons of gas are spilled lling lawn mowers each year. Moving toward emissions-free robotic mowers will help accommodate energy e ciency standards in smart cities.
These are the immediate benefits for automated lawn care - but leveraging the value of big data in robotic mowers is the long-term plan. Using sensors to monitor how hard the mower is working to cut grass can provide valuable insight into the health of a lawn. This data can help providers personalize fertilizer use, avoid overwatering and lead to healthier, lower-maintenance yards.
Despite the benefits of automated lawn care, there are barriers to success as there are with any smart city service.
3 BARRIERS TO AUTOMATED LAWN CARE IN SMART CITIES
Looking 3 to 5 years ahead, it would be wrong to think that there won’t be any challenges for automated lawn care and smart cities in general. There are 3 main barriers to overcome in this segment as smart cities form:
- Educating the Market: Any time a machine becomes automated, people will have questions. However, robotic lawn mowers have worked for 20 years in Europe without any major safety issues. This mower blades are made to stop immediately if the mower is ever lifted—it’s just a matter of explaining the safety features to customers.
- Keeping Human Labor Employed: There are certain functions that will never be automated. Robotic lawn mowers can take menial tasks out of human hands, but that doesn’t mean the landscaping workforce will disappear. The current workforce will evolve to focus on more complicated services like landscape installation, irrigation, tree trimming, and planting.
- Security in the Smart City: Security will always be a concern for Internet of Things devices. Right now, robotic mowers can’t connect to wireless networks so security isn’t much of a concern. But manufacturers have to be thinking security rst as Wi-Fi and GSM connectivity emerge.
THE FUTURE OF SMART CITIES LOOKS BRIGHT
Robotic lawn mowers are a key focus for Robin, but companies like Rachio (with automated watering) are just as important for the emergence of smart cities. In addition to companies like Ring and Nest, the future is bright for a more integrated smart city even on the neighborhood level. All of these innovators are acting separately for now, but true smart cities will become a reality as these services integrate with one another for more powerful data collection and analysis.
Founded by Justin Crandall and Bart Lomont, Robin is a response to our own frustrations with nding and managing quality lawn care providers. After playing tiring phone tag with an unresponsive lawn care provider, and then struggling to nd a new vendor, we realized there had to be a better way. Along with our partners at Dialexa Labs, we built Robin to be the service we and our busy families value - one that makes it easy to get a quote without a contract, to schedule and reschedule appointments online, and to pay automatically, all with providers we trust.