FireFly Automatix (website) has announced the initial customer implementation of the M220-AV, its first fully autonomous field mower. The M220-AV is a hybrid diesel-electric vehicle that has been developing since 2018 and takes the company’s proven features to a new level of automation. FireFly has selected a limited number of turf farms for eligibility for its first commercially available M220-AVs. The program has officially started with the delivery of the first pilot production vehicle to Prime Sod in Kopperl, Texas, this month.
Operators program the current M220-AV models through “teach and repeat” by driving a path in “teach” mode, then bringing the mower to the start of the path and telling it to “repeat” without a driver, allowing the mower to repeat the path over and over autonomously. The new model uses a powerful controller to coordinate the robust suite of LiDAR sensors, cameras, and GPS receivers that ensure the safe and accurate operation of the M220-AV. As safety measures, the vehicle stops when it detects objects in its path or loses connectivity.
“The M220-AV represents a full paradigm shift for turf farm mowing,” said Steve Aposhian, FireFly’s founder and CTO. “We are creating new efficiencies to meet the turf farm industry’s highest needs, which we will ultimately expand to fulfill turf maintenance roles in every place they are needed. The M220-AV has been designed and purpose-built from the ground up to be the most efficient mowing machine on the market.”
The increasing costs and shortages of labor in many parts of the U.S. and the world are becoming a severe threat to the future of traditional farming. The ability to automate repetitive manual tasks is critical to its survival, and robotics and automation hold the key to the long-term competitive positioning in agriculture. “While autonomous machines will never fully replace the need for qualified human resources, innovations like the M220-AV are a vital complementary development toward farming’s ability to produce ideal turf and traditional crops more efficiently,” said FireFly CEO Andrew Limpert.
Image provided by FireFly