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UK Lawn & Garden Industry Seen Shifting to Autonomous Mowers
Oct 6, 2008
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There will be a paradigm shift to autonomous commercial and domestic gardening machinery in the next two years, at least in the UK, according to Roger Lane, chief executive of the Agricultural Engineers Association (AGA). Lane said that it was a big jump for manufacturers to make, but said they will have to take the risk to keep up with the industry.

In commercial applications such as football stadiums and parks, Lane predicted that small intelligent machines are going to replace some of the larger manned vehicles, which would lead to a reduction in staff. “Increasingly I think you will not see a football pitch, a racecourse, a rugby pitch or a park that isn’t cut autonomously,” he said. He added that there were currently some health and safety implications as some elements of the technology still needed to be refined.

Domestic grass cutting in the UK, Lane said, was shifting away from stripes and cut-and-collect methods towards the European mulching method; a fact that will make autonomous domestic mowers more acceptable in the marketplace. He warned manufactures to be cautious about the level of functionality they introduced into machinery for the domestic market when moving into this technology and advised them to keep the customer’s level of competence at the forefront of their minds.

Other trends set to change marketplace in coming years, Lane said, included the shift toward eco-power machinery. While he wasn’t convinced the consumer was demanding it yet, he said legislation will push industry towards hybrid and electric power. In about five years, he claimed, consumers will expect to be able to plug a lawnmower into their home electricity to charge it up. However, Lane said, fuel cells, rather than electric power, will be absolutely key to a lot of machinery in the future as they are easier to charge and retain power more efficiently.

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