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“We want to save people’s demanding and dangerous work,“ says the development manager of the Spider Autonomous 2.0 control unit.

A fascinating story of Vincenc Šopík, the technical director and the co-founder of the snt. Autonomous mowers; a story about courage and the skills to handle things innovatively.

Info updated: Mar 26, 2024

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Vincenc Šopík is not afraid to set high targets. After studying electrotechnics at CTU in Prague, he started working for a German company as a construction manager on solar plants first in the Czech Republic. In 2012, he left for Germany, where he, together with his university classmate Roman Wiesner and colleague Marek Klein, founded their own company and they started building solar plants themselves. 2015 brought new requirements on the service and maintenance of the plants, which also brought an unexpected challenge: grass-mowing on huge surfaces.

The amount of demand for lawn mowing grew. A high number of people had to be allocated to mow large areas. However, the company did not have the capacity for this anymore, so they decided to automate the process.

[citace]The investor wanted us to provide complex services, which include grass-cutting. That was unattractive, maybe even repulsive to us at the beginning. We were electrical engineers, we did not want to mow the grass.[citace]

They started to search for an autonomous grass-cutting solution in large areas of solar plants. They found out that there existed no solution on the market for mowing large areas in demanding terrain with many obstacles. Autonomous machines were too small or big, or they did not have sufficient terrain qualities to be able to move on the terrain of solar plants. That is why they decided to assemble their own autonomous mower.

A pirate version as a start of fruitful cooperation.

They had tested several types of mowers before they chose the remote-controlled slope mower Spider for redesign – specifically, they chose the model Spider ILD02. This model proved to be most efficient in the required conditions, it had sufficient cutting performance and drive, plus its control was suitable for an autonomous conversion.

[citace]The beginning took place in a pirate way – we bought one RC Spider mower and converted it to our autonomous control. Only then did we present it to the mower producer.[citace]

They fitted the chassis with its own autonomous driving unit, and, after successful tests, they introduced Mr Dvořák, the owner of Dvořák – svahové sekačky, the company that makes slope mowers, to the concept. He found the new functionality very interesting. So a new cooperation started, which became a deciding step towards inventing a revolutionary product.

snt. Autonomous mowers.: A combination of experienced leaders in the field and vision.

The snt. company is the producer and seller of the Spider Autonomous 2.0 industrial mowers. The company was founded as a joint venture of the companies Dvořák – svahové sekačky s.r.o. and SMAUT Technology s.r.o. Each of these companies brings in its unique specialization: Dvořák – svahové sekačky provides reliable worldwide successfully sold chassis, and SMAUT Technology provides innovative electronic driving units for autonomous control.

Development and certification of Spider Autonomous 2.0.

In spring 2023, the Spider Autonomous 2.0 became the first certified autonomous mower suitable for commercial use, and it is also the only autonomous mower that can handle very problematic terrain.

The journey from the prototype to a certification was not easy. It was necessary to spend four and a half years of intensive development and testing to create a reliable product. They cooperated with the Czech Government Testing Laboratory of Machines that issued the CE certificate for them. They completed the process within one year. They had to fulfill extremely strict criteria and safety tests. For example, the certification of radio and electromagnetic parameters was very demanding.

[citace]Finally, also thanks to the flexible communication with the certification authority, we passed all the tests. I would love to appreciate the speed of their reactions.[citace]

A vision of safer and more efficient work: A step beyond the possible.

The development of the mower happens through a Test-Driven Development system. The SMAUT Technology company currently has ten machines operating throughout the season, from which data is permanently collected and analyzed, and which is used to improve the autonomous navigation technology further.

They managed to prepare a reliable driving unit that succeeds in various situations and weather conditions in only 4,5 years. They also prepare portal for operation, saving routes, and for locating the machine. The navigating precision is currently at the value up to 5 cm in bends and 1 cm during a straight route, depending on the conditions.

Vincenc Šopík sees the achieved success not just as a reached target but mainly as the beginning of new challenges. His present goals are to secure the ability to mow autonomously also under panels, and improve the web controlling application to make it as well-appointed and intuitive for the customer as possible.

[citace]The Spider Autonomous 2.0 is unique in its ability to autonomously mow grass as tall as 2 meters on a slope with an inclination of 30 degrees. No other commercial autonomous machine can do this.[citace]

As a result of the ability to work in difficult environment, the machine cannot recognize anything behind such tall grass using commonly available sensors. So it can currently only use mechanical bumpers that stop the mower upon contact with an obstacle and follows a formerly programmed route.

The SMAUT Technology’s developer team has been working hard on developing their own sensors. The use of AI is also considered, which could enable the Spider Autonomous 2.0 to succeed in a wider range of situations. The target of this effort is to make the world of lawn-mowing not only more efficient but also safer.

[citace]“I believe that lawn-mowing is a repetitive activity that does not fill anybody with happiness in the long term. We want to save people’s hard and dangerous work and thus make the world a better place.“[citace]

The story of the snt. Autonomous mowers are not just about developing an autonomous mower, but also about determination, creativity, and the never-ending search for new possibilities. The revolution in the mowing world is only starting, and snt. is in the lead.

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Benefits of Spider Autonomous 2.0

Lower operation costs
Universal use of terrain mower
More environment-friendly
Easy transport of mower
Perfect supervision and control of the mowers and tasks
Flexibility of use
Maximum safety and comfort while mowing
Productivity and efficiency of mowing.
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During the session, you will learn about the general information and safety measures at our facility, get a technical overview of the machine, and see a live demonstration of the autonomous lawn mower. We will also present our online portal and web application, and provide insights into how the machine operates within a solar power plant or an orchard.

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