The city has launched an autonomous lawnmower pilot project at the South Bear Creek Park Ball Diamond #1. Officials say the Husqvarna 550 is being used until the end of the season to evaluate just how efficient the process can be.
“Teams are demanding higher and higher levels of service for the conditions of grass, and with the growing conditions we’ve had this year you could almost cut it every day,” said Parks Manager Robert Carroll.
A wire has been installed around the perimeter of the field, acting almost as an invisible leash system used in homes with animals, which keeps the machine within the boundaries of the playing surface, and once a sweep of the field is done, it docks itself to charge.
Carroll said it’s not a pilot to replace any current employees, but more of a look into how technology can make their lives easier.
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“We’ve got more grass than we’ve got people to cut it in the city. If this can take some of the load off of our crews so we can do the more complex things, this is best suited for less complex things like a ball diamond.”
He adds any potential fears of theft of the machine are also minimal, as it has a very audible anti-theft alarm.
The unit and installation of the infrastructure cost the city just under $5,000.