Autonomous technology made a huge splash last year as companies like Uber and nuTonomy tested their vehicles on the streets of major cities. Other companies are introducing autonomous robots to the medical field and warehouses. It’s no secret that some of the most successful innovations happens when a company applies the latest in technology to a traditionally low tech job. This is exactly what Intelligent Marking has done for the sports grounds keeping market. Intelligent Marking has partnered with Turf Tank as the exclusive US distributer for their Intelligent One (ION), an autonomous line-marking robot.
The Intelligent One can “complete the initial marking of an entire soccer field in just 35 minutes or a football field (including outline, yard lines and hash marks) in approximately 2 hours”
Some of the main features of the ION include:
- The ION uses a combination of GPS and RTK for highly accurate positioning of +/- 2cm.
- Users manage the ION by using a dedicated smart app on a rugged (IP67 certified) Samsung Galaxy Active Tab.
- The ION is capably of completing four soccer fields or one complete football field on a single charge from a Lithium ION battery.
Jason Aldridge, President of Turf Tank said in an interview with Fanvive, “Every sports field facility has different needs regarding line marking and paint” and the ION can “increase labor productivity for paid or volunteer staff as well as build morale for groundskeepers when there is a ton of work to be done.”
Aldridge went on to explain that a common scenario that often plagues groundskeepers is getting sports fields ready when the weather is less than cooperative. For example, if fields are needed by the weekend and it rains during the week, this may result in long overtime hours worked to get the fields ready in time. But by using the ION, groundskeepers are free to focus on other needed tasks while allowing the robot to automatically paint the fields.
Turf Tank is adopting a variation of the SaaS model in order to easily accommodate non-profit and public municipality budgets. Other potential customers include private non-profit sports organizations, school districts, colleges, parks and recreation departments, and professional teams. They are offering up to a 72-month lease (with an annual appropriations clause), which includes U.S. based support, software updates and a hardware warranty. The average monthly lease will be around $500 per month plus a GPS data plan of around $80 per month.
As to the future developments of the Turf Tank ION, Aldridge said that more sports field dimensions such as lacrosse, baseball, softball and rugby are on the horizon and software updates will be done Over the Air (OTA) versus them being done via USB today. Additional programming could lead the ION being able to mark custom shapes or logos as well. Another feature considered by the company is swapping paint for an antimicrobial spray that can be used to disinfect artificial turf sports facilities and address a big health concern by parents across the United States.