By Dan Guttenplan, FNF Coaches Managing Editor
Turf Tank founder Jason Aldridge has a passion for helping high school football coaches maximize their time and energy in developing a successful program. As a middle school student, Aldridge got his first taste of the high school football culture working as an assistant team manager at Friendship Christian School in Tennessee. Part of his duties included helping coaches paint the team’s practice and game fields – at times for hours on end with his hands seemingly frozen to the aerosol cans. Aldridge went on to play high school football for head coach John McNeal.
“Coaches have the uncanny ability to inspire and challenge young men to do the impossible on the football field and eventually in life,” Aldridge said. “Coach McNeal’s influence on my life included the drive to dream big and attempt the impossible.”
After 20-plus years of a professional career in software and coaching football, Aldridge now has the vision of delivering an autonomous robot that will paint a football field all by itself through advanced GPS/RTK technology.
“Knowing the culture of coaching football, I understand the added stress to a coach’s schedule of having to paint their practice and game field throughout the spring, summer and fall since football has basically become a year-round sport,” Aldridge said.
Aldridge and his company took their American football knowledge and joined forces with a Denmark-based company, Intelligent Marking, which developed the world’s first GPS paint machine for soccer over the past several years in Europe.
With the Turf Tank ION (Intelligent One) robot, high school (youth, college and professional teams as well) football coaches can now use this technology to paint their practice and game fields. Additionally, coaches can share the robot across multiple teams at their school or district to split the expense and help lower total cost of ownership for the machine.
Turf Tank offers a variation of the Software as a Service (SaaS) business model in order to accommodate private or public school budgets. Turf Tank’s affordable annual lease plan includes product support, software updates and a lifetime hardware warranty.
- The ION uses a combination of GPS and RTK for highly accurate positioning of +/- 2cm.
- Users manage the ION by using a dedicated smart app on a rugged (IP67 certified) Samsung Galaxy Active Tab.
- The ION is capable of completing one complete football field (outline, yard lines, hashes and tick marks) on a single charge from a Lithium ION battery.
- Turf Tank will be able to offer dimensions for fields for other sports, such as lacrosse, baseball, softball and rugby.
- Additional programming could lead the ION being able to mark custom shapes or logos.
- The Turf Tank ION allows coaches to spend more time coaching players and game-planning for opponents rather than painting fields.
- The Turf Tank ION doubles a coaching staff’s labor utilization and provides a return-on-investment due to the decreased time spent painting practice and game fields.
- Teams with access to the Turf Tank ION may see success on the field due to the ability to practice on fields year-round with precise yard-markers and a field perimeter.
- School districts that lease the Turf Tank ION can use the robot for as many fields as they want. The robot is easily transportable in the back of a flatbed truck.
- Turf Tank ION is setup on an annual lease plan, so no long-term commitment if customer is not satisfied with the product and results.
- Turf Tank provides the paint for the robot in an easy to use container designed specifically for the robot.
“It allows coaches to spend more time teaching players and game planning with their coaching staff,” Turf Tank founder Jason Aldridge said. “And it gives them more time with their families. You’re literally doubling labor utilization. When you look at the cost of the robot and compare it to the return-on-investment of what it allows coaches to do with their time, it’s a no-brainer.”
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