Review Of The Scythe M.52 Robot Mower

Many forward-thinking landscaping companies are considering robotic mowers to help them deal with labor shortages and rising prices. Additionally, robot mowers can help a landscape company scale much faster and easier.

Some landscapers have already put robot mowers into action and many of the newer commercial robot mowers have waiting lists stretching out to 2024 and beyond.

One company getting a lot of attention is Scythe. Their M.52 robot mower looks to be a strong contender in the commercial market. 

The Scythe M.52 has a lot of technology going for it and it also has a unique pricing structure that may help many new landscaping companies take advantage of this emerging trend and business opportunity.

Below, we’ll go over the Scythe M.52 to see how it performs and help you decide if this robot mower can help your business increase revenue and cut costs.

Who Is Scythe?

Scythe is an American tech and robotic startup that aims to produce the most advanced autonomous robot mower for commercial purposes.

While being a startup can sometimes be concerning, Scythe has attracted $60 million in venture capital investments. That amount of investment gives them plenty of resources to fulfill their promise for the M.52.

Interestingly, a fund connected to Amazon and their Alexa voice technology has also shown interest in Scythe. No details on any voice-activated features have been shown so far, but it’s an interesting partnership and shows that Scythe is indeed the real deal.

Scythe isn’t “vaporware” as can sometimes happen in the world of robotic lawnmower start ups. Customers are currently taking delivery in Texas and Florida. There is also a waiting list of over 7500 units on reserve, so the M.52 looks to be popular.

Currently, the company employs about 70 people and is headquartered in Colorado.

scythe workers

The Scythe M.52 Robot Mower

The Scythe mower is definitely a case of form following function. With most robot mowers having a more sleek style, Scythe goes for the industrial look with the M.52. But its taller profile does serve a purpose and allows its guidance sensors to be higher off the ground. 

The M.52 has a 52-inch deck with three mulching blades that discharge to the rear. The deck power is a strong 15HP while the drivetrain produces 20HP. The mower is 100% electric for both the deck and the drive unit.

Only the rear wheels are driven and the front wheels are free castors. This design probably does reduce costs significantly compared to some of the all-wheel drive electric models that have recently been released. It didn’t seem to impact performance as the mower can still handle inclines that you’ll find on most commercial properties.

Scythe M.52 Navigation

The M.52 uses a combination of GNSS and computer vision to create a real-time 3D map of the terrain around it. In addition, there are also ultrasonic sensors for additional obstacle and edge detection.

The vision system is based on SLAM (Simultaneous localization and mapping) and it uses vision cameras instead of lasers used in some other applications. Vision camera-based SLAM  may not be as accurate in some applications as lasers, but for the slow speeds of mowing, they can work just fine.

Once again, choosing the vision camera over something like a laser-based LIDAR was probably done to lower production costs and allow more companies to be able to afford the M.52.

The Scythe has two Internal Mapping Units (IMU) to provide redundancy and accuracy as the mower moves about its path.

The M.52 does not require a perimeter wire of any kind. To set these up on a property you use a method that’s common with commercial robot mowers. The operator starts by driving the mower around the perimeter of the mowing area. This mower allows the operator to ride along like a traditional standing commercial mower. All the controls are right on the mower.

The onboard vision system creates a map of the entire area and then builds a mowing pattern. From there, the M.52 can be put into autonomous mode where it will mow the rest of the turf.

Scythe M.52 Mowing Performance

Robot mowers like the M.52 have reached a point where the cutting performance is predictable and this was the case with the Scythe.

There are built-in sensors to detect the thickness of the grass and adjust the mowing speed, which keeps the turf healthy and makes for a more uniform mowing.

The three metal blades are user-serviceable so you can sharpen the blades as needed. In fact, when leasing the units from Scythe, this is the only maintenance you are responsible for. Everything is else covered by the lease price.

The cutting height can be adjusted from 1.5 inches to a generous 6 inches. So this should be plenty of range for almost any commercial property. However, The M.52 is best suited for large, open areas with only a few areas to avoid.

The mower doesn’t use an additional app to create different zones, so heavily dense commercial properties with gardens and other delicate areas will slow the mowing down. The M.52 can detect these obstacles fine, but the average speed drops considerably.

The Scythe M.52 was exceptionally quiet. In fact, it was quieter than many of the residential robot mowers we’ve tested. There was almost no mechanical noise and the cutting blades were about all you’ll hear as it moves past you.

This can be both good and bad. On the plus side, clients and property owners will love the quiet operation. For safety, we could see this easily startling people who may not hear it coming.

Of course, there are plenty of sensors to avoid pedestrians or other obstacles, but it can be a concern if people don’t know exactly what it is that’s moving toward them relatively quietly.

Overall, the Scythe M.52 is a capable commercial mower on par with any 50-inch stand-on mower. The mechanical design is relatively simple, and that’s a good thing as there are no belts, pulleys, or hydraulics to fail.

Scythe M.52 Pricing

You’ve probably noticed that the hot trend in business is to offer everything as a subscription. If you’re familiar with this trend, then you probably know what’s coming.

The M.52 is not available for purchase. Instead, landscapers and property owners can essentially rent these units in batches of 10. 

But that’s where it gets interesting. Pricing is based on a per-acre model. The total pricing has not been publicly released, but renters are only charged for the acres they mow.

It’s an interesting concept for landscaping companies looking to launch a fleet of robot mowers. With this model, the initial investment is going to be much lower than purchasing. It may even be lower than that of a traditional monthly lease.

Also, landscaping businesses can better budget their expenditure since they essentially only pay when the mower is in operation.

Currently, you can reserve a block of ten mowers for $1000. As the mowers approach production, you will be notified so you can prepare for onboarding. The minimum fleet size is 10 and you can increase your fleet in increments of 10, each for an additional $1000 reserve fee.

Reservations made today will likely be delivered in late 2024 at the earliest and possibly 2025 as there are already 7500 units spoken for and on reserve in late 2023.

Scythe M.52 Final Review

Overall, the Scythe is a very capable commercial mower built on trusted technology. Not only that, Scythe has chosen a unique pricing structure which really opens the door for this technology to be used by landscaping companies that may not have been able to afford the steep initial investment of buying mowers outright.

Unfortunately, Scythe is still working out the final pricing details per acre and the final pricing may change our opinion when it’s finally released. But this is a strong mower and could be a great entry point for landscapers looking to leverage the latest robotic technology to grow their business.

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