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Remote and Robotic Mowers
Innovations in Mowing Technology

Remote and Robotic Mowers

With the help of electronic sensors and the ability to tilt and adjust as needed, robotic mowers can move in a pattern to ensure an entire area is mowed without the supervision or control of operators. This Husqvarna Automower 450x is waterproof and can work in inclement weather conditions.

With technology constantly progressing, there is, of course, forward momentum in the realm of mowing, as there is in nearly all aspects of life. Mowers have been improved with innovation several times since the first lawn mower was invented.

According to archives kept by the Old Lawnmower Club based in the United Kingdom, Edwin Beard Budding, an engineer from Stroud, Gloucestershire, England, invented the first push lawn mower in 1830. The early machines were all made of cast iron and featured a large rear roller with a cutting cylinder in the front. Cast iron gear wheels transmitted power from the rear roller to the cutting cylinder.

Motorized mowers appeared in the 1890s as lightweight gas engines and small steam power units became available. Although steam mowers were the preferred choice for a few years, by 1900 gas engine mowers were winning in the market.

Innovations that followed include riding mowers, the first of which appeared one the market in the 1920s. Now there are two new ways that mowers have progressed from the past: remote control and robotics.

Remote Control
Remote control mowers are easy to understand if you or your children have ever played with a RC car or truck: a mower is controlled from a distance, whether slight or significant, by an operator using a remote control to guide the mower's movements and actions.

One situation in which operators might benefit from the use of a remote control mower is when traditional mowers and operators cannot fit into an area that requires maintenance. In Australia, remote control Spider ILD02 mowers tend to turf located under delicate solar panels that are low to the ground. Ride-on mowers cannot fit under the panels, and there is a risk of expensive damage when using reach or swing arm mowers. Being so small, less than one meter in height, the remote control mowers can fit into places that most people and traditional mowers cannot.

Some types of remote control mowers are combination ride-on and remote. For instance, Spider has the 3RIDER, which combines a ride-on mower with remote control technology. Once a slope gets too steep to continue in ride-on mode, the operator can get off and continue mowing by operating the machine at a safe distance by remote control. This technology protects the operator in dangerous situations while still allowing the quality control that comes from having a human control the machine either from the seat or from the side using remote control technology.

Remote and Robotic Mowers

The Spider 3RIDER combines a ride-on mower with the innovation of remote control. Once the slope gets too steep for ride-on mode, the operator can get off and continue to operate the machine by using a remote control to guide the mower's movements.

On the other hand, a robotic mower requires no human operator standing by. Think of a Rumba that travels around a home vacuuming and cleaning floors; the same idea applies to these robotic mowers. An operator can plug in certain settings for a plot of turf and leave the mower to perform the mowing by itself without supervision while other work is attended to.

When considering an investment in a robotic mower, there are two main features to consider. These can help in deciding what kind of robotic mower is the best for a certain company or if that company would even benefit from the use of one at all. These aspects are power and programmability.

Most robotic mowers use a rechargeable battery as a power source, with a few others using solar energy to work. The battery lives of these mowers can vary between brands. For instance, some robotic mowers have very short run times yet require over an hour to fully charge while other mowers runs for longer with a shorter time needed to charge. Quite a few robotic mowers are marketed only as personal mowers for homeowners because they are not powerful enough to perform bigger jobs. Depending on the size of the mowing job, one mower might be better for a lawn care company than another.

Certain mowers allow operators to set them to automatically run at specific times or on specific days. Stihl's iMow robotic mower models are programmed to sense rain and abstain from mowing during wet weather, but operators can deactivate the rain sensor if mowing in the rain is necessary for a job. Some models require the information to be programmed on the units themselves, while others can be controlled via smartphones using Wi-Fi or Bluetooth, like the Husqvarna Automower 450X.

Most robotic mowers have to be programmed to mow a specific area with wire boundaries. Some models are "multi-zone" mowers, which can be set to move between different areas of a lawn or even to take themselves from the front lawn to the back one. Certain robotic mowers can even tend up to four zones on one property if necessary.

Depending on the amount of turf a company handles, remote control or robotic mowers may be helpful in everyday lawn maintenance and projects.

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October 20, 2019, 8:17 pm PDT

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