Why robots could soon be mowing the town's lawns

PUBLISHED: 12:25 25 January 2019 | UPDATED: 12:38 15 February 2019

Ambrogio's L400i mower. Picture: Ambrogio Robotic Lawnmowers

Ambrogio's L400i mower. Picture: Ambrogio Robotic Lawnmowers

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The robot mowers come with their own security systems to tackle vandalism.

Ambrogio's L350i Elite is a common model for slightly smaller areas - mowing 1.7 acres, which is  the same size as the marked Wembley football pitch. Picture: Ambrogio Robotic LawnmowersAmbrogio's L350i Elite is a common model for slightly smaller areas - mowing 1.7 acres, which is the same size as the marked Wembley football pitch. Picture: Ambrogio Robotic Lawnmowers

A small fleet of ‘robot’ lawnmowers could soon be cutting sites in Exmouth 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.

Exmouth’s mayor, Jeff Trail, is hopeful the autonomous mowers can save the council money, he said: “It works well at Darts Farm and I would imagine it saves time, effort and manpower.

“At the same time I do wonder what it will mean for the council’s staff.”

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.

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An EDDC spokeswoman 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 Ambrogio. We anticipate using the larger models from the last two manufacturers due to the size of sites being cut.”

Exmouth’s Manor Gardens and Withycombe Pitches are included in the sites earmarked for the mowers to work on, but the council says it still assessing suitable areas. Other areas in Sidmouth and Honiton have been pinpointed.

The council added that it hopes the trial would make savings between 15 and 25 per cent.

The spokeswoman 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.

The robot has GPS and alerts the user if it is moved, taken or tampered. They also have systems to stop them if they knock into things.

The spokeswoman added: “With all the manufacturers we have spoken to there have been no reported thefts and no cases of significant vandalism.”

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