Mowing the grass results in a lot of wasted biomass that could probably be put to better use. EcoMow is a small self-fueled mower and grass pellet harvester that uses freshly-cut grass as fuel, and processes the biomass that it does’t use into a dried pellet form which can be used for other applications such as heating or power generation.
Even though Jason Force, the company’s founder, has tested the robot and discovered that consumers love the idea, investors aren’t so keen. They think it’s too far from what consumers are used to, which put simply, means there is a risk it won’t make enough money. In an interview with Gigaom, Force explained further:
“A lot of work would have to go into this product to make it safe; don’t run over your pets or children, don’t run into the street and cause an accident. The concern was we would get to the end of the $2 million development cycle and the customers would just decide they didn’t like it.”
In the meantime, EcoMow will produce a larger mower that will harvest hay fields for fuel pellets, something investors are willing to back. He hasn’t forgotten about the consumer mower though, with plans to develop it from the beginning of 2016. A small model designed to manicure lawns less than an acre in size might cost $500 and weigh less than 10 pounds.
Beyond simple garden aesthetics, Force also sees the EcoMow as a potentially powerful tool for developing nations. Instead of building a power plant and biomass processor, plus buying a harvester to collect biomass, communities could use a version of the EcoMow for all three.
“An application I’m pursuing is having little micro grids set up in East Africa where the units would go harvest during the night and then come back and plug themselves in to a power unit during the day and supply power to the local region during the day,” he told Gigaom.