Futuristic robot lawnmowers could soon be cutting grass in Honiton
PUBLISHED: 12:25 24 January 2019 | UPDATED: 09:19 29 January 2019
A small fleet of 'robot' lawnmowers could soon be cutting sites in Honiton as part of a futuristic trial by East Devon District Council (EDDC).
The authority is looking at rolling out the autonomous mowers, which will cost between £2,000 and £15,000 each, around April this year.
The bid for the mower trial has been included in a budget proposal recommended for approval by EDDC’s capital strategy and allocation group.
EDDC’s Cabinet and Overview and Scrutiny Committee have already approved the budgets - they will now go to full council on February 27. If approved, EDDC will have the budget for the trial.
An EDDC spokesperson said: “If the trial is a success, which will be gauged after a year and reported back to Cabinet, we would be looking to submit a capital bid to purchase more robot mowers for sites, which were appropriate.
“It is too early to say what the scale of this would be.”
The authority says it is still assessing which models it will be using. The spokeswoman added: “We are looking at equipment from Husquavana, Big Mow and Abrogio. We anticipate using the larger models from the last two manufacturers due to the size of sites being cut.”
Allhallows in Honiton is included in the sites earmarked for the mowers to work on, but the council says it still assessing suitable areas.
Areas in Sidmouth and Exmouth have also been pinpointed by the district council.
It added that it hopes the trial would make savings between 15 and 25 per cent.
The spokesperson said: “The savings come from fuel, consumables and staff time as well as reductions in fertilisers and weed killers.
“The point of the trial is to assess the actual possible level of savings before potentially rolling these out to all sites of an appropriate size and topography.”
The robot mowers also come with their own security systems to tackle vandalism.
They also have GPS and alert the user if they are moved, taken or tampered, with systems to stop them if they knock into things.
The spokesperson added: “With all the manufacturers we have spoken to there have been no reported thefts and no cases of significant vandalism.
Honiton mayor Cllr Henry Brown said he was quite interested to see the mowers in action.
He added: “It’s not a particular case study I feel strongly about either way - other than it being good to see local authorities embracing emerging technologies.
“I do hope as we see automation fill demand for some tasks, workers will be retrained and provided with jobs in other sectors.”