Robotic lawn mowers to help spruce up city green spaces

A hi-tech solution for maintaining the capital’s parks is being tested by the City of Edinburgh Council.

Edinburgh is one of just seven cities worldwide to test the robotic lawnmowers, which will appear in select locations across the city over the coming weeks, where they will be operated remotely to cut grass.

The equipment is being trialled in a handful of sites, including Longstone Primary School, Mortonhall Cemetery and Princes Street Gardens West, as part of the international pilot by parks and garden product manufacturer Husqvarna and in collaboration with data science community, Quantified PlanetMower

Amongst the benefits of the new mowers are increased efficiency - allowing staff to concentrate on horticultural activities elsewhere, improved safety on steep grass verges and a positive impact on the environment thanks to their use of battery operation.

David Jamieson, Parks and Greenspace Manager, said: “Edinburgh has a proud reputation for its green spaces and our parks team work tirelessly to ensure their regular upkeep. By testing technology like robotic and remote-controlled lawn mowers we hope to explore new ways of improving the efficiency of the service even further to the benefit of the city’s landscape.

“What’s more, the trial will help us to consider the positive impact more environmentally-friendly equipment can have, so I look forward to its findings.”

Husqvarna UK Professional Manager, Kevin Ashmore, said: “One of the biggest roadblocks to reach the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals is the lack of data. Cities, like Edinburgh, need better environmental data to improve health and create cities people want to live in. The aim of this project is to help Edinburgh and other cities around the world support this mission. Edinburgh has been extremely accommodating and open to exploring how using robotic technology can have an enormous impact both environmentally and in terms of productivity. 

"The technology also allows us to monitor the impact and after the first stage of the trial we will be able to measure, through the sensors, the total impact on the environment.”

Testing will enable Husqvarna to explore the potential for widening its production of the mowers, but will also allow the Council to consider its own use of similar technology. As well as environmental benefits, battery-operated machinery can reduce noise and vibration, while Council investment in remote-controlled mowers enables safer treatment of steep banking.

In addition, environmental data gathered during the trial by specially built sensors will track and collect information about the environment, the quality of air, water and levels of light and sound and sent digitally to Quantified Planet. This will also help the Council to better understand the city’s microclimates, the impact of air pollution and how the use of battery-operated lawn mowers could reduce carbon emissions.

All mowers, which are operated using a special smart phone app, are pin-protected and are fitted with alarms and technology to disable should they be moved without authorisation. To ensure public safety, sensors detect any nearby objects, including people and animals, causing machines to turn away.

Edinburgh is one of seven cities around the world testing the robotic lawn mowers with London, Gothenburg and Stockholm in Sweden, Almere and Leeuwarden in the Netherlands and San Fransisco in the US also taking part in the trial.

Find out more about Edinburgh's parks and green spaces online.

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