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Wednesday 13 June 2018

Say 'Goodbye' to mowing the lawn

MowerWe hear and write a lot about automation. Tonight I was invited to a neighbour’s house to see automation really close to home. The automower.

My neighbour has 6.5 acres of lawn. He has installed six Husqvarna Autolawnmowers at a capital cost of £18,000. He reckons they will payback within 18 months based on the labour costs he paid before + the costs of his ride on mowers.

LawnI didn’t believe that the mowers would cut the grass to the required standard. But I was pleasantly surprised at the end result - as you can see in the photo on the right.. The automowers are silently in action 24 hours a day (if you want). They automatically return to their charging station (see photo below) every 3-4 hours. He has laid control wires around the areas to be cut and the automowers randomly cross and re-cross the lawn. It is particularly impressive at night with their little headlights. They even seem to handle slopes well. Everything is controlled via a smartphone app. So you can see remotely exactly what each mower is doing. They also alert you if they get stolen. Indeed thieves were caught when the app alerted the police to the stolen automower’s whereabouts.

ParkedAutomation in agriculture creates huge opportunities. Particularly as casual labour becomes more difficult to procure. You can see these robot machines planting and then harvesting all kinds of crops. Indeed if you visit a modern farm you will see jobs, like milking, being automated to the extent that the cows decide when to get milked. Jobs that only a few years ago required much manual labour at unsocial hours.

My experience tonight of the Hisqvarna automower really convinced me that robotics were not only practical in a garden - but affordable too!

Footnote - Garden maintenance - much of which involves mowing grass and cutting hedges - is a worthwhile job that can be undertaken by people with limited academic achievement. Indeed a great entry-level job for youngsters. So what is the social effect if simple jobs like this are automated? Sure, it may create new jobs for hardware and software engineers designing and building the robot mowers. But those jobs are out of reach for many less able youngsters.

Posted by Richard Holway at '21:09' - 1 comment

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