Craig Senovich, an engineer by day, opened Half Crown Hill Orchard with the purpose of cleaning out his great-grandfather's land and planting 1,300 trees. He also installed a drip irrigation system, field sensors and a weather station, and connected them to his personal PC.
He then turned half of the area into robotic technology test site for the United States Department of Agriculture. Brad Hamner, of Carnegie Mellon, is now testing an autonomous vehicle that may be able to take over some of Senovich's chores. "It would be nice to be able to have some automated stuff just to mow the lawn," he said.
A new robot lawnmower has been created, this one cleverly managed by a modified Wiimote. Part of the Plant Robotics Project, The Casmobot (Computer Assisted Slope Mowing Robot) was created by researchers at the University of Southern Denmark. Robotics are built into the mover and it is controlled via Bluetooth to a computer. The mower can move forward when the controller is tilted down and backwards when tilted up. It can work manually or by computer with autonomous navigation based on RTK positioning.
If you are a golfer, you may soon run into the RG3 (Robotic Greens Mower 3,) which made its debut at the recent 2009 Golf Industry Show in New Orleans. The robotic mower from Precise Path not only keeps greens tidy, it may soon have the capability of mowing fairways, raking sand traps and applying pesticides and fertilizer. The RG3 runs on 2 lead acid batteries for its 24V DC motor and one for its computer, and gets about 3 hours of work done before needing a recharge. It uses ultrasonic and infrared technology to triangulate a location that exists in a perimeter set up by 4 beacons and can run at night because it is "whisper quiet." Precise Path claims it has 100% coverage when at work, as opposed to other robotic mowers. It had better. The RG3 has a MSRP of $29,500.00.
It's a bit early to think about mowing your lawn, but you can start saving now for your own SmartMow, which is expected out in March. At a size of approximately 21 x 27 x 8" (with base station included,) and a weight of about 17 lbs., the mowing bot can cover about 1/6th of an acre on a charge. Its three blades has a cutting width of about 12" and can handle slopes up to 30º. The SmartMow runs on a Lithium 24V 8aH battery with a charging time of about 4 hours. Preorder with a $175.00 deposit and the company will take 25% off to make it a total of $750.00. Like we said, start saving.
Because iRobot has yet to create a winterized Roomba, perhaps a viable alternative is to adopt Roofus. The bot can collect and dump snirt (dirty snow) both autonomously and by remote. Designed by Michal Glogowski, the prototype can also be used with attachments to mow your lawn and clean your house. Roofus has 2 electric motors, caterpillar tracks and sensors on each side for navigation.
This is the latest innovation in lawn mowing that, coincidentally, is also energy efficient. The Muwi cuts, then collects the grass inside. Its designers, Yong Hee Cho, Yuli Sung, Jee Won Lee, and Seung Hee Son, say that it compresses the green stuff into balls to play with or blocks to sit upon that naturally biodegrade in time. Don't get too excited. Although this looks like something you want in your backyard, the Muwi is still a prototype.
Lawn robots are all the rage, but getting one that stands and mows upright is still a ways off. This video shows a bipedal robot that needs a little help when mowing, and we think a cordless mower would help as well.