Electric Sheep Robotics, the leader in autonomous lawn mowing, has officially launched its Dexter robot.
Dexter takes existing commercial lawn mowers, both gas and electric, and turns them into autonomous vehicles. Dexter is designed to address critical labor shortages in the landscaping, facilities, and property management industries.
Nationally, a record 4.5 million US workers quit their jobs in November. There are more job openings than there are workers. The labor market in landscaping is particularly dire.
Tens of thousands of full-time positions are going unfilled, according to the National Association of Landscape Professionals, who also call 2021 “the worst labor market in recent history”.
The company also today announced Series A financing in the amount of $21.5 million, led by Tiger Global. To date, the company has raised $25.7 million and is currently the best-capitalized autonomous mowing start-up with the largest number of commercial customer deployments.
Griffin Schroeder, partner, Tiger Global, says: “Automation of the $115 billion outdoor maintenance market is an enormous opportunity hiding in plain sight. Electric Sheep is leading the way with fully autonomous solutions. We are excited to invest and help them grow their leadership position.”
Other investors include Foundation Capital, who led the $4 million Seed round, grep -vc, Signia Venture Partners, as well as individual pre-Seed investors Ariel Cohen (TripActions), Travis Deyle (Cobalt Robotics), Sahil Lavingia (Gumroad), and Reinforced Ventures.
Naganand Murty, CEO of Electric Sheep, says: “I don’t think people realize that lawns are America’s largest crop.
“More land and water are dedicated to lawns than to wheat and corn combined, and more than 40 million acres of land in the US has some form of lawn.
“$20 billion is allocated annually to lawn mowing alone. Solutions such as Electric Sheep’s Dexter robot are helping our customers meet demand and better allocate their already scarce labor pool.”
Electric Sheep will use the funds to fuel expansion across all departments in order to meet growing customer demand. The company currently has contracts with thirty customers across the US and interest is high.
Matt Menoni, Apex Landscaping, in Hawthorn Woods, Illinois, says: “The technology Electric Sheep has brought to market is an absolute game-changer. It won’t take long for our industry to catch on.
“The landscape industry, like many others, is experiencing extreme labor shortages, and for us, Covid-19 has only exacerbated a pre-existing problem.
“The automation of our mowing work allows our teams to redirect their focus onto more specialized work at our clients’ properties – the stuff they actually get excited about. We’re also big believers that this opens the door for young people to get excited about horticulture.
“This technology provides unique opportunities for the next generation to be engaged in an industry they might not normally consider.”
Michael Mayberry, Level Green Landscaping, in Washington, DC, says: “If the past few years have taught us nothing else, it’s made us more comfortable with change.
“Forward-thinking companies in the landscaping industry are turning to automation to help address the most challenging labor environment I’ve ever seen.
“By autonomously mowing lawns – one of the least-skilled tasks my team undertakes – Electric Sheep is helping us to automate our way out of an extreme labor shortage.”
Dexter easily attaches to new or existing lawn mowers and requires minimal training in order to autonomously mow any type of grass. Landscapers simply show Dexter what to do one time, and the robot then autonomously repeats those actions.
Dexter utilizes cutting-edge technology, including LiDAR, cameras, GPS, ultrasonic sensors for precise maneuvering across diverse terrain, and OTA (over-the-air) firmware updates.
All robots are monitored while in use and incorporate a safety-rated system capable of detecting perimeter breaches in even the most adverse conditions.
Dexter is being designed to the evolving R15.08 standard for self-driving robots and is available with no upfront costs through a Robots-as-a-Service model.