Good Sports: Autonomous robot helping paint athletic fields across Central California

Alec Nolan Image
Monday, April 24, 2023
Good Sports: Robot helping paint fields
This robot uses GPS to mark lines with the touch of a button.

KERMAN, Calif. (KFSN) -- As Kerman High School's maintenance and operation site lead, Robert Zavala takes his athletic field preparation seriously.

"We take pride in trying to be the best field in the Valley," said Zavala.

But he's getting some much-needed help from a little friend.

"It's a completely autonomous robot that paints athletic fields," explains Matt Armstrong, the field operations engineer for Turf Tank.

The robot uses GPS to mark lines with the touch of a button.

It's not just football fields. The Turf Tank can also paint for soccer, baseball, and track and field events.

It's that range of capabilities that immediately caught Zavala's attention, and once he got his hands on one, he was thrilled to learn he'd be working with Armstrong. The two had coached football together in the past.

Now Armstrong is helping his coaching buddy differently. He's helped Kerman cut the time to prepare a football field to five hours.

Zavala said before it would take his crew of five three and a half days.

While the Turf Tank does the tedious work, the Kerman crew can focus on the details.

"I can go on and move onto filling in letters or the other stuff that needs to be done for the football field prepping for the game," said Zavala.

The Turf Tank's footprint now spreads across Central California.

Armstrong says they're also in use at Kingsburg, Selma, Orosi and Edison High in Fresno.

That's where we found Daniel Hernandez, the school's plant supervisor using his Turf Tank to prepare for a softball tournament.

He said the first time he saw it, he was blown away, "I was like there's no way something like that exists."

Hernandez says the robot saves manpower, hours, and paint. On top of that, it's easy to use, "If you can use a cell phone, you can use a Turf Tank.

It also makes day-to-day operations more flexible, "If something was to happen and we have to move a field, we're able to accommodate on the fly. Something in the past that was not even a possibility."