Toro announced the introduction of a robotic lawn mower for the residential market that will greatly reduce the time and sweat homeowners spend cutting grass.
Toro has some autonomous lawn mowers for golf courses and commercial markets under development but is introducing its first robotic mower for residential use.
To compete against robotic residential lawn mowers already on the market. Toro says its autonomous mower is the first to use optical sensors. Some of the existing robot mowers on the market use GPS navigation or require a guide wire to be buried around the perimeter of the yard or obstacles that the mower uses for navigation.
"There's a lot of different teams across Toro that come together to build this type of product," said Greg Janey, vice president of the residential and landscape contractor business at Toro and head of its Center for Technology, Research and Innovation, which developed the new mower.
"Ultimately this is really the foundation for us to build as we go into the future around different types of technologies around battery, smart-connected and autonomous technologies," he said. "This one specifically is really the start of a smart yard."
For many homeowners, lawn mowing is a weekly or biweekly chore. But the robotic lawn mower can be programmed to run more often, leaving grass a bit taller, which can create a healthier lawn by avoiding the stress of cutting too much grass at once.
Plus, it will look better aesthetically, Janey said.
"When you think about an always-ready lawn, it's really about that freshly cut, great look every single day," Janey said.
The propriety vision system used by Toro's robot mower uses multiple cameras for navigation and to map each lawn. A smartphone app can also create custom mowing schedules that can factor in weather forecasts and allows owners to manage the mower from anywhere. The app also will aide in the initial setup of the mower and its cutting patterns.
Toro's robotic mower is battery-operated and quieter than gas-powered mowers, and it has built-in safety and anti-theft features. The mower will have an auto docking feature so it can recharge when it senses the need.
Best for midsize lawns, dozens of competing residential robotic mowers are already on the market. The low-profile and center of gravity means it can handle some sloped lawns.
Toro expects the robot mower category to grow significantly as the technology develops. According to an industry report from Mordor Intelligence, the market for residential robotic lawn mowers is expected to grow from $1.3 billion in 2020 to $3.5 billion by 2026.
Bloomington-based Toro had annual revenue of $4 billion for its fiscal year ended Oct. 31, 2021, with 25% of its sales coming from its residential segment and the remaining from its professional segment. Residential segment sales grew 23% over the prior year driven by sales of zero-turn residential lawn mowers, snowblowers and Toro's line of 60V Flex Force battery powered residential devices.
Pre-orders for the mower will begin this fall, and the product will be available next spring.