When one thinks of golf courses, the last thing that comes to mind is robots. But right here in Ontario, one robot has overtaken the golf industry. That robot is the Pik’r built by Korechi Innovations.
This article was originally published by Melissa Nowakowski for Spark Centre on July 11, 2023.
The Pik’r is the first heavy-duty, high-capacity autonomous robot dedicated to golf ball retrieval for various golf facilities, from busy driving ranges to high-end private golf country clubs. The Pik’r automates existing three and five-gang golf ball pickers, can pick up ten times more balls than its competitors and is available on a service rental model with the option to buy five or more units. This robot has become in high demand across North America and Europe. The 2023 RBC Canadian Open used Pik’r to pick up the balls at their practice facility, which was featured in a PGA Tour video that has been watched more than three million times.
The world’s first rugged range golf picking robot is just one innovation in Korechi Innovations Inc.’s cap. This Canadian small-to-medium-size-enterprise (SME), founded by Sougata Pahari, designs and manufactures products to alleviate labour shortages in the agriculture and golf industries. Korechi Innovations’ robots automate simple, repetitive and, at times, unsafe tasks in farming and on golf courses for which there’s often a lack of trained staff. For example, Korechi Innovations’ RoamIO series of autonomous robots — RoamIO-HCT, RoamIO-Mini, RoamIO-HCW and RoamIO-ZTV — each performs specialized tasks in agriculture. Developed with input from farming communities in Ontario, these tracked and wheeled robots perform various farming duties like cultivating, seeding, weeding, mowing, soil sampling, data-logging and more. The RoamIO series of robots feature an array of obstacle detection capabilities like cameras, LiDAR and artificial intelligence. They can be operated remotely using a tablet or a remote, cloud-operated alternative.
With farming being very seasonal and with the golf sector in North America and Europe (an equally labour-intensive industry) growing in demand and given Korechi Innovations’ experience and success in creating automated robots, it made sense for this company to develop the Pik’r. Korechi Innovations conducted its first tests in 2019 and released the Pik’r in the Fall of 2022.
Get your prototype in the hands of customers as soon as possible, even if it embarrasses you. Customer feedback will help your product evolve much faster and in the right direction. – Sougata Pahari, Founder, Korechi Innovations Inc.
Sougata Pahari, who has extensive experience in Mechatronics and electronics for the transportation industry, founded Korechi Innovations in 2016 after moving to Canada. Pahari recognized that Canada can have severe winters, which makes sectors like agriculture seasonally dependent and operational for a few months out of the year.
“Because activities like farming and golfing are season-dependent, the employment for these sectors is usually only for a few months every year.” Pahari says, “This makes it difficult for these industries to maintain a stable workforce. I felt that these industries could benefit from automated robots.”
Korechi Innovations Inc. was launched with the help of McMaster University’s The Forge and Hamilton-based Regional Innovation Centre (RIC) Innovation Factory. When Pahari decided to move the company to Oshawa, Ontario, in 2018, he joined Durham Region’s RIC, Spark Centre, to receive further support and resources for growing the business. This support included mentorship from Spark Centre’s advisors — experts in various fields from marketing, sales and finance — as well as business development guidance and office space.
“Regional Innovation Centres like Spark Centre and Innovation Factory play a vital role in helping local startups grow.” Pahari says, “We are very grateful for their support.”
Since 2016, Korechi Innovations Inc. has launched its farming and golf-picking robots and now has a manufacturing facility in the Durham Region to serve an ever-expanding roster of customers in Canada and the U.S. Given Korechi Innovations’ success in the agriculture and golfing industries, we can’t wait to see which sector these innovative, automated robots permeate next!