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Knoxville Business News Tennessee Mountain Scenery Background
July 07, 2022 | Tom Ballard

Commercialization of Powershed advances with new partnership

One of the nation’s leading commercial landscaping equipment suppliers is bringing the Powershed, a device developed in Knoxville and being commercialized by a local company, to corporate campuses in the heart of America. 

As noted in this article that published in April 2021, Powershed evolved from a concept conceived by a then University of Tennessee (UT), Knoxville staff member for a solar-powered charging station in response to several needs. One was serving hard to get to and sometimes unsafe locations. Another was finding a solution that preserved the carbon sequestration process that occurs when clippings drop onto the soil and, at the same time, also reduced the carbon released into the atmosphere by gasoline-powered mowers.

Powershed was subsequently licensed by the UT Research Foundation to Solar Alliance, which has users in Florida, Georgia, Michigan and Tennessee and has now expanded to Illinois, thanks to an arrangement with Automated Outdoor Solutions (AOS). The Woodstock, IL-based company is an industry leader in deploying robotic mowers for corporate campuses. These mowers by innovators like ECHO Robotics are solving labor challenges, saving costly fuel bills and reducing carbon footprints. 

At one undisclosed location for a Fortune 500 corporate campus, AOS included Powershed as the power source, something that Joe Langton, President and Chief Executive Officer, explained in a recently issued news release from Solar Alliance.

“The biggest reason is the flexibility it gives us to site mowers anywhere the sun shines without any issues running power to the site,” he said. “We are completely untethered. This simplifies a project by avoiding all that goes into construction cost and permitting for a hard-wired charging system. Also, based on the employment environment these days, it is much easier to buy a robot than to hire another person. The robotic mower and Powershed together have a role in reducing the client’s carbon footprint.”

Powershed uses solar panels plus battery backup on a scale to fit industrial robotic mowing needs for acres at a time. Solar power production, storage and charging, plus mower performance, can all be tracked remotely 24/7.

ECHO Robotics has also joined in a three-party partnership with AOS and Solar Alliance.

“We believe that the off-grid solution of Solar Alliance with our mowers, together with the excellent service program offered by AOS, is a game changer,” said ECHO Vice President of Robotics Benjamin Houssa. “Jointly, we understand the needs for corporate campuses, schools and municipalities to maintain their fields in an eco-friendly and price-sensitive manner. Thanks to the partnership, we can expand this off-grid mowing service solution nationwide.”

The progress being made is music to the ears of Harvey Abouelata, Vice President at Solar Alliance. Noting that solar and batteries perform differently depending on the geography and weather conditions, he added that “we have tested Powershed for more than a year at the University of Tennessee, both on incredibly steep hills using Husqvarna and on large open areas using ECHO Robotics.” 

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