BLOOMINGTON, MN—The Toro Co. is well-known for its red, gas-engine lawnmowers and snow blowers that are popular with homeowners and grounds care professionals. It recently made a strategic move to branch into autonomous equipment by acquiring Left Hand Robotics Inc., a Longmont, CO, firm that has developed self-driving vehicles for commercial turf and snow management applications.
The company’s main product is the RT-1000 tractor. The autonomous machine features an articulating frame powered by a standard air-cooled gasoline engine. It weighs 1,250 pounds, is 93 inches long and has a 12-galllon fuel tank that enables the tractor to run unattended for long periods of time. During winter months, the mower deck can be removed and replaced with a 56-inch rotary broom to clear snow. A deicer box can be attached to the rear to distribute sand or salt.
The RT-1000 uses a variety of sensors to detect and avoid obstacles and people. Each machine is equipped with GPS, lidar, radar and six on-board cameras.