2023 - Volume #47, Issue #2, Page #38[ Sample Stories From This Issue | List of All Stories In This Issue | Print this story | Read this issue]
Solar Robot Designed For Landscape Work
“The LCR is like a smartphone with different options,” says Dan Abramson, co-founder, Directed Machines. “You can mow, tow, blade snow or dirt, almost anything you could do with a small tractor. It can even be used for security patrols or scaring away predators. All of which can be done autonomously.”
The LCR is a relatively simple machine designed for DIY maintenance with many off-the-shelf components. The company is dedicated to customer right-to-repair. Other components are built by the company to hold down costs.
The first LCR was built by retired Microsoft software engineer George Chrysanthakopoulos. His goal was a solar-powered robot for snow removal. Discussions with neighboring small-scale farmers lead him to design and program the LCR.
“I was the fourth buyer of an LCR,” explains Abramson.
Customers are golf courses, solar farms, rural properties, high-volume garden nurseries, farms, and more which has allowed the company to do extensive research on how the platform fits diverse needs.
“The two most popular uses so far have been mow and tow,” says Abramson. “As a result, we have made a lot of changes and improvements to our mowing capability.”
When first introduced in 2020, the LCR was equipped with a 48-in. stainless steel mower deck which, like the 3-pt. hitch, is manufactured in-house. Directed Machine mower decks can now be customized in size from 48 to 144 in. and equipped with either blades or string trimmers. Blades and string trimmers can be readily switched out.
“We use all stainless steel instead of mild steel for the frame and many components,” says Abramson. “It’s highly resistant to corrosion and avoids the need for costly painting systems. The single bent steel plate chassis and frame will look as good 100 years from now as the day it was delivered.”
The zero-turn 1,400-lb. LCR is equipped with up to 30 kWh of energy storage and a 400W bi-facial solar panel. It’s powered by a 45 kW, 60-hp. electric drive with 1,400-ft. lbs. torque and more than 6,000 lbs. towing capacity. The 3-pt. hitch has a 2,000-lb. lift capacity.
The low-cost chain drive can be field replaced or repaired with easy-to-source parts. They and the mower deck are controlled by a 300A at 48V board custom designed and produced by Directed Machine.
The operating system is designed around a Raspberry Pi 4. The credit card-sized single-board computer has been proven in countless applications since its 2012 introduction.
“We do with a $35 computer what Tesla and others have accomplished with billions of dollars in investments and expensive hardware,” says Abramson.
“Machine vision allows us to work in areas where GPS is occluded, such as under heavy foliage or solar panels,” says Abramson. “Higher energy applications will have to rely on the battery pack; however, the solar panels are usually sufficient to power the LCR indefinitely for applications like towing.”
Base price on the LCR is $14,999 without batteries. The 10 kW sealed acid batteries add around $2,000 to the cost versus $6,000 for 10 kW lithium ferrous phosphate batteries. Mower deck, tire type (skid steer/turf/mud/ATV tracks), 3-pt. hitch and other options all impact the final price.
“A typical LCR delivered runs between $25,000 and $35,000, depending on applications,” says Abrahamson.”
Abrahamson notes that the company website is currently under redesign and update. The new site, when completed, will have current features and specifications.
Contact: FARM SHOW Followup, Directed Machines, 6795 E. Marginal Way S., Seattle, Wash. 98108 (ph 360-777-6268, Ext. 101; mobile 425-270-9958; email@example.com; www.directedmachines.com).
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