Royal Reesink has formed a partnership with Vincent Achten to create TurfTroniq, a company that will develop and deliver the technology for automated steering of Toro mowers to the UK and Ireland.
The collaboration with Vincent, who has more than a decade of experience in robotising mowers, is in response to customer interest for automated steering for Toro. TurfTroniq has developed two types of system, both have been supplied to customers in Europe and ongoing trials continue: the Assisted Mowing System (AMS) is an advanced mowing aid and the Robotic Mowing System (RMS) is a fully automatic system which enables the machine to mow independently.
David Cole, managing director of Reesink Turfcare UK, says: “We’ve watched with interest the progress of this technology so far and it’s ever-evolving. TurfTroniq has developed a real understanding for where GPS control technology is, how it works and what needs to happen to deliver a reliable, safe and quality product to our customers.”
AMS automatically lowers the mower units and follows the pre-programmed mowing lines. All the operator has to do is turn the machine in front of the cutting line and the system takes over. There are several potential benefits to this approach, says David, predominantly that it can be used for training operators and eliminating ‘fairway creep’, raising the standard of theoperator, their productivity and enhancing course presentation.
“AMS can be set-up by an experienced operator for a junior member of the team to complete the mowing to an extremely high standard,” David explains. “It gives the operator mowing experience, allows for machine familiarisation and helps with training. The skills of the more experienced operator can then be redeployed to more challenging and technical work rather than time consuming wide area mowing. And because the machine can follow exactly the same route each time, it eliminates ‘fairway creep’ and ensures the definition of the fairway remains the same cut after cut.”
The RMS meanwhile is a fully automatic system to enable the machine to mow independently using 3D camera technology to quickly detect obstacles in its path. David says: “This is a technology some of our customers tell us they are interested in and want to understand more about in terms of its potential place within their own particular maintenance regimes. With a focus on increased productivity through minimal overlap and repetitive mowing results, there’s no doubt a role for it in the turfcare maintenance of tomorrow. We look forward to engaging with customer opinion to understand further what place this emerging technology has for them in a practical sense and that’s where TurfTroniq is right now.”
Over the past several years, the systems have been installed on Toro fairway mowers and have been extensively tested and, according to TurfTroniq, proved to be very reliable. Systems are working in the field and continue to undergo rigorous testing in daily maintenance operations.Both systems are easy to use, and the progress of the machines can be monitored live with any smartphone.
This collaboration to develop GPS mowing technology for Toro mowers with Vincent’s experience supported by Reesink’s distribution network for the UK and Ireland, will ensure that Toro customers will soon be able to benefit from assisted and automated steering. Roon Hylkema, director of Royal Reesink B.V, concludes:” The market is ready for this innovative technology and we are delighted to be able to make it available in the UK and Ireland.”