Gaming And Vfx
Back in 2015, robotics and sports publications released news of a ‘Roomba-like’ device designed for golfers. It didn’t clean living rooms but milled around the driving range to collect the hundreds of balls driven each day.
The invention caught fire. Not only did it simplify ball collection for driving ranges and golf courses, but it did it well. One of the first iterations, the BallPicker from Belrobotics, could snatch up to 10,000 balls a day covering an area of six acres.
In live tournaments, by contrast, the technology used in the sport is surprisingly austere. Clubs cover a range of specialized techniques, but when it comes to marking balls rather than collecting them, a simple coin does the trick for most pros.
Each is responsible for marking their own ball and can use whatever marker they like (putting greens aside). With a catalog of stats that directly inform golf betting odds from sportsbooks and in-depth coverage of pundits, accuracy matters. A quarter or dime is a surprisingly simple way to gauge such significant data. But back on the driving range, marking balls isn't a priority. Collecting them and how to avoid losing them is the real concern.
The Belrobotics Suite
As mentioned above, Belrobotics was one of the first groups to tackle ball collection on a large scale. But the company’s ideas quickly evolved. Today, the group offers robotics solutions for a range of spaces, including football (soccer) clubs and other sporting facilities.
Beyond the golf course, Belrobotics creates automated mowing devices, which are designed to be quieter and more efficient than the competition. There’s the BigMow, the ParcMow, and the classic BallPicker. But there’s another group that’s looking to combine these features into a single Mower-Picker.
The Future: A Mower-Picker
Useful and revolutionary as Belrobotic’s BallPicker is, most driving range and golf course owners have employed a separate robot to handle grass mowing. Two years ago, Echo Robotics changed the game by introducing a pair of robots that work in tandem to mow and collect balls simultaneously.
The autonomous TM-2000 mower runs with the RP-1200 ball picker to provide maintenance on driving ranges and golf courses. But the group faces a few challenges. Belrobotics has kept their products separate for a reason—superintendents in charge of caring for the greens are suspicious of fully automated mowers.
Not only are they concerned about the quality delivered by automated mowers, but some prefer lawn aesthetics such as stripes, which can’t (yet) be handled by robots. Other courses are simply too challenging, with varying grades and design elements like water features.
However, with National Golf Federation estimating the industry’s worth at $84 billion, teams like Belrobotics and Echo Robotics are likely to continue innovating solutions for mowing and ball picking.