'Cutting edge' robot lawnmowers trialled in Exmouth and Honiton
PUBLISHED: 12:47 21 May 2019 | UPDATED: 10:00 23 May 2019
Robot lawnmowers are being trialled in two East Devon towns as a way to trim the district council's recruitment and operational costs.
The mowers, being rolled out in Exmouth and Honiton, could mean less temporary workers being employed if the machines are taken on permanently, according to East Devon District Council.
The automated machines are being trialled in Manor Gardens and Withycombe Pitches in Exmouth and at All Hallows in Honiton during the 2019 growing season (spring to autumn).
If the robot mowers end up being used across a wider range of sites, the council will investigate reducing the number of temporary agency workers employed each year.
John Golding, East Devon's strategic lead for housing, health and the environment, said: "We are carefully assessing cutting-edge technology to maintain our green spaces, to analyse the potential for this technology to reduce maintenance costs and improve quality.
"This will free up our permanent staff to work on more highly-skilled tasks in our parks and gardens, as well as reducing our carbon footprint, as the machines produce up to 90 per cent less CO2 emissions than standard petrol mowers and are much quieter."
The mowers have sensors and alarms which make them turn in a different direction if they encounter an object or obstruction and have emergency stop buttons on the top.
According to the district council, the use of the robot mowers will improve the quality of the grass being cut. The resulting cuttings mulch will help fertalise the lawn and will also suppress any weeds.
They will be used at times of low public access or at sports pitch locations.
Signs warning that the mowers are in operation are displayed at all the sites and the public are welcome to watch the machines working.
Mr Golding added: "As part of out transformation strategy, where we aim to deliver the services our council tax payers expect, we are always striving to continuously improve what we do for the benefit of East Devon residents and visitors and this long-term robotic mower trial is an exciting and interesting example of this."