Building on over a decade of automation experience in agriculture, FireFly Automatix now builds fully autonomous mowers for professional turf management in sports turf, golf, and beyond.
Raised in a sod farming family and experienced as an R&D engineer for a major lawnmower manufacturer, Steve Aposhian gathered a team of engineers and grass experts to found FireFly in 2010 and develop a revolutionary turfgrass harvester. Our groundbreaking ProSlab harvesters didn’t just rethink automation for turf farms, but for all mobile equipment. The team leveraged modern factory technologies like electric servo motors to produce a hybrid diesel-electric machine that introduced a whole new level of automation to the turf industry.
Our work caught the world’s attention in 2015, when we found ourselves on the NI Week keynote stage with companies such as Texas Instruments, Jaguar, and Samsung. NI’s Nick Butler said: “This is one of the first, if not the first, agricultural IoT application. There’s nothing out there with this level of autonomy.”
A flurry of media coverage followed this presentation. The ProSlab harvester graced the cover of OEM Off-Highway magazine, and Farm Journal named FireFly a leader “at the vanguard of agricultural IoT [Internet of Things] application.” FireFly’s “tight synchronization” of its “sophisticated control system” was praised in Automation World, and a Control Design article said: “Bringing a high-end control system, programming and mechanical design to FireFly’s automated turf harvesting machine proves technology and automation work well in agriculture applications.”
What’s the difference between automation and autonomy?
Automation is machine assistance, and when it runs all tasks without humans, it is full autonomy. The amount of assistance provided by the machine can be described in a continuum.
FireFly’s harvesters automate multiple tasks, such as steering and stacking, which means we have been building machines at a Level 2 of autonomy for over a decade.
M220-AV: Leapfrog to Level 4 Autonomy
Seeing the tremendous benefits of autonomy to our customers, our engineers then began work on a fully autonomous mower. We determined to build a large 22-foot wide mower for turf farms to offset the high price of autonomy technology at the time. Applying our electric hybrid systems, we released a manned version of the M220 mower in 2018 and continued work to develop and test its autonomy.
In April 2023, we launched the M220-AV, the autonomous model of the farm mower. The M220-AV utilizes “teach-and-repeat” driverless operation, which lands the mower at Level 4 autonomy.
The AMP-L100: Full Autonomy
While we developed the M220-AV, technology for autonomy exploded across industries, significantly lowering costs. Smaller autonomous mowers proliferated, but we saw a need for a professional-grade mower for applications such as sports fields and golf courses.
We had proven the value of electric systems for over a decade, in terms of precision, speed, reliability, and fuel economy. We recognized that an all-electric machine would have additional benefits for autonomy. Electric systems are easier to monitor, and because it’s simpler mechanically, it’s actually better suited for unsupervised operation.
Because we have been building electric systems for years, we were poised to hit the ground running with an all-electric autonomous mower. With two years of development, in addition to the lessons learned over 8 years with the M220, we released our 100-inch mower in July 2023. After a rebranding, this mower is now the FireFly AMP, with the first model (AMP-L100) offering reel cutting units. The AMP can operate without human input or supervision, which means this mower is fully autonomous, or reaching the highest level of autonomy.
We may be a fresh face in sports turf and golf, but FireFly Automatix brings a proven track record in autonomy, as well as electric vehicles. The FireFly AMP promises to reduce operational costs and alleviate labor pressures, while helping you maintain a professional-grade cut.Get a Quote Reserve AMP now