HSLU develops mowing robot

Researchers at Lucerne University of Applied Sciences and Arts (HSLU) have developed a mowing robot at the initiative of the Schwyz-based start-up Ronovatec. The robot is operated electrically and can autonomously mow the grass on football pitches – including the familiar striped pattern.

Image Credit: Ronovatec
Image Credit: Ronovatec

The new mowing robot named NaviMow is waist-high, has three wheels and spindle-shaped cutting tools. It is lighter than similar tools for cutting grass and can therefore also be used on damp ground. NaviMow is operated electrically and is able to autonomously mow large areas of grass. It has primarily been conceived with cutting the grass on football pitches in mind. Striped or checked patterns can also be cut into the grass at the click of a mouse.

René Meier, Head of the Information Technology team at HSLU explains: “Various aspects must be taken into consideration in order for the mowing robot to calculate the most efficient route to take in order to cut the pattern into the grass without mowing over the same area twice”. A software program is used to autonomously work out the pathway. However, in order to actually be able to navigate this route, the robot must have a good sense of direction. To this end, the researchers developed a solution which combines two determination types: the primary information source is provided by four beacons (ultra-wide-band transmitters the size of a cigarette box), via which the robot is able to wirelessly measure distances. Using this distance information and by calculating the rotations per minute of its wheels, the robot can work out its location and direction of travel. This combination of information facilitates precise positional accuracy, according to HSLU.

In addition to the software, the researchers at HSLU also developed the hardware and the design for the cover. Moreover, the Lucerne-based scientists developed the security system. NaviMow can slow down or even completely stop when it identifies obstacles. To this end, it has been fitted with a Lidar sensor. HSLU states that this is the same technology used by Tesla.

The robot is still at the prototype stage and will be tested in Switzerland during the summer months. The start-up Ronovatec will be responsible for marketing the NaviMow.

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