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Robot or mowbot?

Christchurch National Technology

20 February 2019

The future is here, and it’s in the guise of a small but perfectly-formed robot, or mowbot as it's affectionately called at Citycare Property.

The mowbot is actually the STIHL iMow, an electric robotic mower that runs completely independently of any human intervention. Think space-age vacuum cleaner that zooms around cleaning up, self-powering and putting itself to sleep/recharging at the appropriate time.

Mowbot 2

The mowbot is better from an environmental perspective than traditional diesel or petrol mowers as it reduces emissions. It is also better from a Health and Safety perspective as it limits vibration exposure for operators and is quieter and safer when working in public spaces.

The mowbot delivers better outcomes on a number of levels:

  • The zero-emission, battery-powered motor emits no fumes and almost no noise
  • It's super-agile and can easily negotiate its own way round trees, pools and sharp corners
  • It can climb slopes of up to 24 degrees, removing the risk of operators climbing up and down steep, slippery slopes
  • It is fully programmable and can operate 24/7
  • It's a much safer and healthier option for operators as well as members of the public

And most importantly, the mowbot achieves a premium cut, with much less watering or fertilising than would normally be needed when using a conventional mower.

The mowbot is currently being trialled at two Christchurch sites – a secret location on the Port Hills and a grassed area at Christchurch International Airport. The trial is a partnership project with mowbot inventors STIHL, with the innovative electric mowers proving successful. The Port Hills location has been selected to test the limits of the mowbot’s capability on a difficult site with hill variations and thick grass. While the airport location demonstrates effectiveness on a perfectly clipped, flat lawn space.

The mowbots have GPS tracking devices to keep them operating within a selected area and to ensure trackability if stolen or removed from the specified site.

“Citycare is always at the forefront of exploring new technology that will help us provide our clients with a better result and technology that makes it safer for our staff to complete their work. This trial project helps us achieve both those goals. If successful we will add the mowers to our toolbox,” said Nige Cottingham - Executive General Manager Strategy, Citycare Group.

The mowbot is also very safe for people in the immediate surrounds as it senses objects in front of it and changes direction or moves away if necessary. If the mowbot is picked up or pushed it immediately shuts down so there is no risk to people that may pick it up or bang against it while it is in operation.

The mowbot frees up driver time so team members can focus on more intensive maintenance requirements like pruning roses or weeding.

The trial is the first commercial trial of the product for STIHL internationally, with the mowbot expected to be rolled out for sale later this year.

The mowbot has already had a starring role on TVNZ 1News in February with significant interest in the trial.

Mowbot 1News1